Predation

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Lion and cub eating a Cape Buffalo

In ecology, predation describes a relationship and actions between two creatures. A predator attacks and eats its prey.[1] Predators may or may not kill their prey before eating them. But the act of predation always causes the death of its prey and taking in the prey's body parts into the predators body.[2] A true predator can be thought of as one which both kills and eats another animal but many animals act as both predator and scavenger.

A predator is an animal that hunts, catches and eats other animals. For example, a spider eating a fly caught at its web is a predator, or a pack of lions eating a buffalo. The animals that the predator hunts are called prey. A top predator or apex predator is one that is not the prey of other predators.

Predators are usually carnivores (meat-eaters) or omnivores (eats plants and other animals). Predators will hunt other animals for food. Examples of predators are cats, crocodiles, snakes, raptors, wolves, killer whales, lobsters and sharks.

Ambush predator[change | edit source]

A beetle larva attacking a fish.
A female goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) capturing the female of a pair of mating flies.

Ambush predators or sit-and-wait predators are carnivorous animals or other organisms, such as some carnivorous plants. They capture or trap prey by stealth or strategy (not conscious strategy), rather than just by speed or strength.

These organisms usually hide quiet and wait for prey to come within striking distance. They often are camouflaged, and may be solitary. This may be safer for the predator, because lying in wait exposes it less to its own predators.

When a predator cannot move faster than its preferred prey, ambushing its prey is likely to be more efficient than pursuit. Otherwise, active hunting commonly is more effective. There are however many intermediate strategies; for example when a pursuit predator is faster than its prey over a short distance, but not in a long chase, then either stalking or ambushing becomes necessary as part of the strategy.[3]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Begon M; Townsend C. & Harper J. 1996. Ecology: Individuals, populations and communities. 3rd ed, Blackwell Science, London. ISBN 0-86542-845-X, ISBN 0-632-03801-2, ISBN 0-632-04393-8
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica: "predation"
  3. Inon Scharf, Einat Nulman, Ofer Ovadia & Amos Bouskila (2006). "Efficiency evaluation of two competing foraging modes under different conditions". The American Naturalist 168 (3): 350–357. doi:10.1086/506921. http://www.bgu.ac.il/~oferovad/library/Scharf06ForMod.pdf.