Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal

Florisbad Quaternary Research Station’s Dr Daryl Codron is one of the authors on a paper that presents a mathematical solution which predicts predator kill frequency. The research station is one of the satellites of the National Museum.

Carnivores, unlike herbivores, typically remove whole individuals from prey populations, and so can have enormous effects on prey populations and whole ecosystems. Mammalian carnivores can be divided into those that eat small prey items (invertebrates, reptiles, birds, and small mammals) and those that eat larger prey (large rodents, lagomorphs and antelope).

The paper (Oikos doi:10.1111/oik.05488) shows that kill rates among large-prey feeders are a negative function of gut capacity, as species with larger guts need to feed less often. The largest carnivores, in fact, do not even need to fill their gut capacities in order to meet daily energy requirements. A similar mismatch exists in mammalian herbivores, in which the oversized guts of large species allows them to feed on low quality plant foods by simply eating more and more.

Carnivores are not constrained by food quality (meat is always rich in proteins), having large guts simply means they can eat enough food in one meal so that they ultimately need to hunt and eat less often. They can then devote more time to activities like mating, defending territories, or just resting (which may explain why lions are so often found doing nothing). The models present a mathematical solution for predicting numbers of prey of particular sizes that will be killed by any given carnivore species over a given time period.

The full paper can be accessed

#NationalMuseum #Florisbad


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