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Predator
Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation (which usually do not kill the host) and parasitoidism (which always does, eventually). It is distinct from scavenging on dead prey, though many predators also scavenge; it overlaps with herbivory, as seed predators and destructive frugivores are predators. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often concealed. When prey is detected, the predator assesses whether to attack it. This may involve ambush or pursuit predation, sometimes after stalking the prey. If the attack is successful, the predator kills the prey, removes any inedible parts like the shell or spines, and eats it. Predators are adapted and often highly specialized for hunting, with acute senses such as vision, hearing, or smell. Many predatory animals, both vertebrate ...
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Antipredator Adaptation
Anti-predator adaptations are mechanisms developed through evolution that assist prey organisms in their constant struggle against predators. Throughout the animal kingdom, adaptations have evolved for every stage of this struggle, namely by avoiding detection, warding off attack, fighting back, or escaping when caught. The first line of defence consists in avoiding detection, through mechanisms such as camouflage, masquerade, apostatic selection, living underground, or nocturnality. Alternatively, prey animals may ward off attack, whether by advertising the presence of strong defences in aposematism, by mimicking animals which do possess such defences, by startling the attacker, by signalling to the predator that pursuit is not worthwhile, by distraction, by using defensive structures such as spines, and by living in a group. Members of groups are at reduced risk of predation, despite the increased conspicuousness of a group, through improved vigilance, predator confusio ...
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Pursuit Predation
Pursuit predation is a form of predation in which predators actively give chase to their prey, either solitarily or as a group. It is an alternate predation strategy to ambush predation — pursuit predators rely on superior speed, endurance and/or teamwork to seize the prey, while ambush predators use stealth, luring, the use of surroundings and the element of surprise to capture the prey. While the two patterns of predation are not mutually exclusive, morphological differences in an organism's body plan can create an evolutionary bias favoring either type of predation. Pursuit predation is typically observed in carnivorous species within the kingdom Animalia, such as cheetahs, lions, wolves and early '' Homo'' species. The chase can be initiated either by the predator, or by the prey if it is alerted to a predator's presence and attempt to flee before the predator gets close. The chase ends either when the predator successfully catches up and tackles the prey, or ...
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Alarm Call
In animal communication, an alarm signal is an antipredator adaptation in the form of signals emitted by social animals in response to danger. Many primates and birds have elaborate alarm calls for warning conspecifics of approaching predators. For example, the alarm call of the blackbird is a familiar sound in many gardens. Other animals, like fish and insects, may use non-auditory signals, such as chemical messages. Visual signs such as the white tail flashes of many deer have been suggested as alarm signals; they are less likely to be received by conspecifics, so have tended to be treated as a signal to the predator instead. Different calls may be used for predators on the ground or from the air. Often, the animals can tell which member of the group is making the call, so that they can disregard those of little reliability. Evidently, alarm signals promote survival by allowing the receivers of the alarm to escape from the source of peril; this can evolve by kin select ...
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Warning Coloration
Aposematism is the advertising by an animal to potential predators that it is not worth attacking or eating. This unprofitability may consist of any defences which make the prey difficult to kill and eat, such as toxicity, venom, foul taste or smell, sharp spines, or aggressive nature. These advertising signals may take the form of conspicuous coloration, sounds, odours, or other perceivable characteristics. Aposematic signals are beneficial for both predator and prey, since both avoid potential harm. The term was coined in 1877 by Edward Bagnall Poulton for Alfred Russel Wallace's concept of warning coloration. Aposematism is exploited in Müllerian mimicry, where species with strong defences evolve to resemble one another. By mimicking similarly coloured species, the warning signal to predators is shared, causing them to learn more quickly at less of a cost. A genuine aposematic signal that a species actually possesses chemical or physical defences is not the only way ...
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Mimicry
In evolutionary biology, mimicry is an evolved resemblance between an organism and another object, often an organism of another species. Mimicry may evolve between different species, or between individuals of the same species. Often, mimicry functions to protect a species from predators, making it an anti-predator adaptation. Mimicry evolves if a receiver (such as a predator) perceives the similarity between a mimic (the organism that has a resemblance) and a model (the organism it resembles) and as a result changes its behaviour in a way that provides a selective advantage to the mimic. The resemblances that evolve in mimicry can be visual, acoustic, chemical, tactile, or electric, or combinations of these sensory modalities. Mimicry may be to the advantage of both organisms that share a resemblance, in which case it is a form of mutualism; or mimicry can be to the detriment of one, making it parasitic or competitive. The evolutionary convergence between groups is driven by ...
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Ambush Predation
Ambush predators or sit-and-wait predators are carnivorous animals that capture or trap prey via stealth, luring or by (typically instinctive) strategies utilizing an element of surprise. Unlike pursuit predators, who chase to capture prey using sheer speed or endurance, ambush predators avoid fatigue by staying in concealment, waiting patiently for the prey to get near, before launching a sudden overwhelming attack that quickly incapacitates and captures the prey. The ambush is often opportunistic, and may be set by hiding in a burrow, by camouflage, by aggressive mimicry, or by the use of a trap (e.g. a web). The predator then uses a combination of senses to detect and assess the prey, and to time the strike. Nocturnal ambush predators such as cats and snakes have vertical slit pupils helping them to judge the distance to prey in dim light. Different ambush predators use a variety of means to capture their prey, from the long sticky tongues of chameleons to the exp ...
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Camouflage
Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see, or by disguising them as something else. Examples include the leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier, and the leaf-mimic katydid's wings. A third approach, motion dazzle, confuses the observer with a conspicuous pattern, making the object visible but momentarily harder to locate, as well as making general aiming easier. The majority of camouflage methods aim for crypsis, often through a general resemblance to the background, high contrast disruptive coloration, eliminating shadow, and countershading. In the open ocean, where there is no background, the principal methods of camouflage are transparency, silvering, and countershading, while the ability to produce light is among other things used for counter-illumination on the undersides of cephalopods such as squid. Some animals, such as chameleons and octo ...
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Aggressive Mimicry
Aggressive mimicry is a form of mimicry in which predators, parasites, or parasitoids share similar signals, using a harmless model, allowing them to avoid being correctly identified by their prey or host. Zoologists have repeatedly compared this strategy to a wolf in sheep's clothing. In its broadest sense, aggressive mimicry could include various types of exploitation, as when an orchid exploits a male insect by mimicking a sexually receptive female (see pseudocopulation), but will here be restricted to forms of exploitation involving feeding. An alternative term Peckhamian mimicry (after George and Elizabeth Peckham) has been suggested, but is seldom used. For example, indigenous Australians who dress up as and imitate kangaroos when hunting would not be considered aggressive mimics, nor would a human angler, though they are undoubtedly practising self-decoration camouflage. Treated separately is molecular mimicry, which shares some similarity; for instance a virus may ...
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Parasitism
Parasitism is a close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the host, causing it some harm, and is adapted structurally to this way of life. The entomologist E. O. Wilson has characterised parasites as "predators that eat prey in units of less than one". Parasites include single-celled protozoans such as the agents of malaria, sleeping sickness, and amoebic dysentery; animals such as hookworms, lice, mosquitoes, and vampire bats; fungi such as honey fungus and the agents of ringworm; and plants such as mistletoe, dodder, and the broomrapes. There are six major parasitic strategies of exploitation of animal hosts, namely parasitic castration, directly transmitted parasitism (by contact), trophicallytransmitted parasitism (by being eaten), vector-transmitted parasitism, parasitoidism, and micropredation. One major axis of classification concerns invasiveness: an endoparasite lives inside the hos ...
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Micropredation
Parasitism is a close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the host, causing it some harm, and is adapted structurally to this way of life. The entomologist E. O. Wilson has characterised parasites as "predators that eat prey in units of less than one". Parasites include single-celled protozoans such as the agents of malaria, sleeping sickness, and amoebic dysentery; animals such as hookworms, lice, mosquitoes, and vampire bats; fungi such as honey fungus and the agents of ringworm; and plants such as mistletoe, dodder, and the broomrapes. There are six major parasitic strategies of exploitation of animal hosts, namely parasitic castration, directly transmitted parasitism (by contact), trophicallytransmitted parasitism (by being eaten), vector-transmitted parasitism, parasitoidism, and micropredation. One major axis of classification concerns invasiveness: an endoparasite lives inside the host's b ...
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Seed Predator
Seed predation, often referred to as granivory, is a type of plant-animal interaction in which granivores (seed predators) feed on the seeds of plants as a main or exclusive food source,Hulme, P.E. and Benkman, C.W. (2002) "Granivory", pp. 132–154 in ''Plant animal Interactions: An Evolutionary Approach'', ed. C.M. Herrera and O. Pellmyr. Oxford: Blackwell. . in many cases leaving the seeds damaged and not viable. Granivores are found across many families of vertebrates (especially mammals and birds) as well as invertebrates (mainly insects); thus, seed predation occurs in virtually all terrestrial ecosystems. Seed predation is commonly divided into two distinctive temporal categories, pre-dispersal and post-dispersal predation, which affect the fitness of the parental plant and the dispersed offspring (the seed), respectively. Mitigating pre- and post-dispersal predation may involve different strategies. To counter seed predation, plants have evolved both physical defenses ...
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Signalling Theory
Within evolutionary biology, signalling theory is a body of theoretical work examining communication between individuals, both within species and across species. The central question is when organisms with conflicting interests, such as in sexual selection, should be expected to provide honest signals (no presumption being made of conscious intention) rather than cheating. Mathematical models describe how signalling can contribute to an evolutionarily stable strategy. Signals are given in contexts such as mate selection by females, which subjects the advertising males' signals to selective pressure. Signals thus evolve because they modify the behaviour of the receiver to benefit the signaller. Signals may be honest, conveying information which usefully increases the fitness of the receiver, or dishonest. An individual can cheat by giving a dishonest signal, which might briefly benefit that signaller, at the risk of undermining the signalling system for the whole population. ...
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