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vertebrate scavenging communities

AuthorsSelva, Nuria; Moleón, Marcos; DeVault, Travis L.; Sebastián-González, Esther ; Quagiotto, M. M.; Bailey, D. M.; Lambertucci, S.; Margalida, Antoni
Issue Date2019
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationCarrion Ecology and Management: 71-99 (2019)
SeriesWildlife Research Monographs 2
AbstractA scavenger is an animal that feeds on the carcass or remains of any dead animal which it did not participate in its killing. Scavenging is pervasive across the animal kingdom and almost all predator species use carrion to a certain extent in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. There is a group of animals, the obligate scavengers, which rely (almost) entirely on carrion. Among vertebrates, only birds have evolved into obligate scavengers, namely vultures, which suggests that the costs of adaptation to obligate scavenging are high. Obligate and facultative scavengers exhibit a wide array of adaptations to locate and exploit carrion across systems, including inexpensive locomotion to find the unpredictable carrion on savannas, caching carrion in cold tundra or chemotaxis in aquatic systems. Traditionally viewed as an opportunistic process, particularly for facultative scavengers, carrion consumption by vertebrates often follows complex and structured patterns and is crucial in maintaining the stability and structure of food webs.
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