Large body and small brain and group sizes are associated with predator preferences for mammalian prey

Susanne Shultz, Laura V. Finlayson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Predation is a major force in shaping biological communities, both over ecological and evolutionary timescales. In response to predation pressure, prey have evolved characteristics designed to mitigate predation pressure. We evaluated predator foraging biases in relation to prey characteristics across 16 vertebrate communities. We show that although predator biases vary, some prey traits are consistently associated with predator diet composition. Within their acceptable prey size range, predators show positive bias toward larger bodied prey, small-brained prey (controlling for body size), small group size, and terrestriality. Thus, whether predator foraging decisions are passive or active, predator choice exerts differential pressure on prey species according to prey characteristics. Predator biases also were positively associated with early age at maturity, supporting the role of mortality in driving life-history characteristics. These results support several theoretical models of predation including its role as a selective force driving evolutionary changes in life history, brain size and sociality, optimal diet theory, and antiapostatic predation. © 2010 The Author.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1073-1079
    Number of pages6
    JournalBehavioral Ecology
    Volume21
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

    Keywords

    • encephalization
    • foraging ratio
    • predation
    • selectivity
    • sociality
    • wild dogs

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