In ecology, predation is a biological interaction where a predator (an organism that is hunting) feeds on its prey (the organism that is attacked). Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation often results in the death of its prey and the eventual absorption of the prey's tissue through consumption.
- When predators are capable of regulating prey populations, then they may indirectly influence both the composition and biomass of plant communities by releasing them from herbivory.
- Predation is probably as old as (cellular) life itself, and it is likely to have existed in many different forms and at many different levels during the formative phases of the Cambrian explosion (which culminated between 550 and 540 Ma)
- Stefan Bengtson in: Origins And Early Evolution Of Predation, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet: Startsida (nrm.se)
- Each predator directly exerts a negative effect upon its prey, but predators may also provide indirect benefits to their prey. In ecosystems, such benefits are effected via indirect trophic pathways that can provide a more than compensating positive influence. The ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve (southwest Florida) appears to contain an unusually high number of such predators—most notably, the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis... the predation by alligators on snakes and turtles accounts for most of the trophic benefits bestowed. The actions of alligators in modifying their physical environment contributes to the maintenance of biotic diversity. It appears that the trophic influence of this species adds further evidence to the important role it plays in the functional ecology of the cypress wetland.
- Cristina Bondavalli, Robert E. Ulanowicz in:Unexpected Effects of Predators Upon Their Prey: The Case of the American Alligator, Springer Link
- Predation, in animal behaviour, [is] the pursuit, capture, and killing of animals for food. Predatory animals may be solitary hunters, like the leopard, or they may be group hunters, like wolves.
- The senses of predators are adapted in a variety of ways to facilitate hunting behaviour. Visual acuity is great in raptors such as the red-tailed hawk, which soars on high searching for prey. Even on a dark night owls can hear, and focus on, the rustling sound and movement of a mouse.
- Encyclopedia Britannica in: "prey"
- Many insect-eating bats hunt by echolocation, emitting a pulsed, high-frequency sound—in the manner of a ship's sonar—while flying; the sensory data thus gained guides them to their prey.
- Encyclopedia Britannica in: "prey"
- A flock of white pelicans will cooperate to form a semicircle and, with much flapping of wings, drive fish into shallow water where they are easily captured.
- Encyclopedia Britannica in: "prey"
- "Natural? Why would I give a damn about what's natural? Nature is a butcher! Nature is a goddamned butcher!" [...] This was a recurring theme with my mother. She loved the beauty of nature, loved animals of any species, but always she saw ugliness behind the beauty. Every bird at our backyard feeder would remind her of how many chicks and fledglings died for each bird that survived to maturity. Every image of wildlife on television or the web would bring to her mind the bloody, rapacious cycle of predator and prey. The boundless, uncaring wastefulness of nature infuriated her. All through my childhood our home was an impromptu hospital, rehabilitation clinic, and long-term rest home for a host of rescued wild and domesticated animals. Orphaned fledgling birds and baby squirrels, starving semi-feral alley cats, and then the mice and birds rescued from the jaws of those same cats.
- Karl Bunker in: "They Have All One Breath", Clarkesworld Magazine, Dec. 2016
- Although predation has likely played a central role in the evolution of primate socioecology, we currently lack a thorough understanding of how fine-scale variation in perceived predation risk affects primates' short-term space use patterns and predator avoidance strategies. White-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) monkeys perceive reduced predation risk in the high and middle forest layers, and they adjust their vigilance behavior to small-scale spatial variation in perceived risk.
- Fernando A. Campos, Linda M. Fedigan in: Spatial ecology of perceived predation risk and vigilance behavior in white-faced capuchins, Behavioral Ecology Journal
- Stotting appears to inform the predator that it has been detected, but it does not invite or deter the predator from pursuing the Gazelle, it informs the mother that the neonate has been disturbed and is in need of defence. In addition, mothers whose neonates escaped capture by cheetahs stotted significantly more during the attempt than mothers whose neonates were caught.
- T.M. Caro in: The functions of stotting in Thomson's gazelles: some tests of the predictions in Animal Behaviour Volume 34, Issue 3, June 1986, Pages 663–684, Science Direct Journal
- Whichever way man may look upon the earth, he is oppressed with the suffering incident to life. It would almost seem as though the earth had been created with malignity and hatred. If we look at what we are pleased to call the lower animals, we behold a universal carnage. We speak of the seemingly peaceful woods, but we need only look beneath the surface to be horrified by the misery of that underworld. Hidden in the grass and watching for its prey is the crawling snake which swiftly darts upon the toad or mouse and gradually swallows it alive; the hapless animal is crushed by the jaws and covered with slime, to be slowly digested in furnishing a meal. The snake knows nothing about sin or pain inflicted upon another; he automatically grabs insects and mice and frogs to preserve his life. The spider carefully weaves his web to catch the unwary fly, winds him into the fatal net until paralyzed and helpless, then drinks his blood and leaves him an empty shell. The hawk swoops down and snatches a chicken and carries it to its nest to feed its young. The wolf pounces on the lamb and tears it to shreds. The cat watches at the hole of the mouse until the mouse cautiously comes out, then with seeming fiendish glee he plays with it until tired of the game, then crunches it to death in his jaws. The beasts of the jungle roam by day and night to find their prey; the lion is endowed with strength of limb and fang to destroy and devour almost any animal that it can surprise or overtake. There is no place in the woods or air or sea where all life is not a carnage of death in terror and agony. Each animal is a hunter, and in turn is hunted, by day and night. No landscape is so beautiful or day so balmy but the cry of suffering and sacrifice rends the air. When night settles down over the earth the slaughter is not abated. Some creatures see best at night, and the outcry of the dying and terrified is always on the wind. Almost all animals meet death by violence and through the most agonizing pain. With the whole animal creation there is nothing like a peaceful death. Nowhere in nature is there the slightest evidence of kindness, of consideration, or a feeling for the suffering and the weak, except in the narrow circle of brief family life.
- Arrest with rising jaw the tribes above;
With monstrous gape sepulchral whales devour
Shoals at a gulp, a million in an hour.
―Air, earth, and ocean, to astonish'd day
One scene of blood, one mighty tomb display!
From Hunger's arm the shafts of Death are hurl'd,
And one great Slaughter-house the warring world!"
- Predation is an important selective force in evolution and is generally assumed to select against substandard individuals, i.e. the young, senescent, sick, or individuals in poor physical condition.
Raptors did not hunt randomly, but rather preferentially predate on juveniles, sick gulls, and individuals with poor muscle condition. Strikingly, gulls with an unusually good muscle condition were also predated more than expected, supporting the mass-dependent predation risk theory.
- Meritxell Genovart, et al The Young, the Weak and the Sick: Evidence of Natural Selection by Predation, PLOS One, March 19, 2010
- At first sight, domesticated animals may seem much better off than their wild cousins and ancestors. Wild buffaloes spend their days searching for food, water and shelter, and are constantly threatened by lions, parasites, floods and droughts. Domesticated cattle, by contrast, enjoy care and protection from humans. People provide cows and calves with food, water and shelter, they treat their diseases, and protect them from predators and natural disasters. True, most cows and calves sooner or later find themselves in the slaughterhouse. Yet does that make their fate any worse than that of wild buffaloes? Is it better to be devoured by a lion than slaughtered by a man? Are crocodile teeth kinder than steel blades?
- Yuval Noah Harari in: "Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history", The Guardian, 25 Sept. 2011
- Psychopaths are social predators, and like all predators, they are looking for feeding grounds. Wherever you get power, prestige and money, you will find them.
- Nature is babies with teeth growing up into their skulls. It's animals with open wounds rotting over without treatment. It's swollen feet and hunger and painful, infectious blindness. I see a healthy-looking animal getting ripped open and eaten alive by a predator, and while I flinch, I honestly think "Wow, it looked healthy - it was really lucky that only those last 30 minutes were intensely painful."
- Mason Hartman, quoted in Brian Tomasik's essay "Medicine vs. Deep Ecology", Essays on Reducing Suffering, 30 Oct. 2012
- Observe, too, says Philo, the curious artifices of nature, in order to embitter the life of every living being. The stronger prey upon the weaker, and keep them in perpetual terror and anxiety. The weaker too, in their turn, often prey upon the stronger, and vex and molest them without relaxation. Consider that innumerable race of insects, which either are bred on the body of each animal, or flying about infix their stings in him. These insects have others still less than themselves, which torment them. And thus on each hand, before and behind, above and below, every animal is surrounded with enemies, which incessantly seek his misery and destruction.
- For many animals, alarm calls are more than simple squawks of fear. Vervet monkeys, for instance, use different sounds to warn of different types of predator. "Leopard!" is not the same as "snake!" or "eagle!" If you hide a loudspeaker in the bushes, and startle unsuspecting monkeys by playing recordings of "snake!" at them, they will look around at the ground. "Eagle!" makes them look up. "Leopard!" sends them scampering to the trees.
- Meerkats — those charismatic mongooses that stand on their hind legs to scan for predators — give calls that announce both the general type of predator (coming from the sky, coming from the ground) and how close it is — in other words, how urgently everyone should react. Black-capped chickadees — small songbirds that live in North America — have calls that say whether a predator is flying or resting, and if it is resting, how dangerous it is.
- Olivia Judson in: "Leopard Behind You!"
- Predators sometimes respond too. After all, alarm calls don't just let other animals know there's danger in the area. They can also let a predator know that it's been seen. Ambush predators, like leopards, often give up and go away once an alarm has been sounded.
- Olivia Judson in: "Leopard Behind You!"
- A while ago I watched a wildlife documentary about Komodo dragons poisoning, tracking for a week or so, and then, finally, when their victim became too weak to defend itself, disembowelling and eating alive, a water buffalo. The cameraman said this had been his first ever wildlife assignment, and it would probably also be his last, because he couldn't cope with the depth of suffering he had been forced to witness. That was just one poor creature. Each day, millions of animals are similarly forced to tear each other limb from limb to survive. And this has been going on for hundreds of millions of years. This is, in many ways, a beautiful world. But it's also a staggeringly cruel and horrific world for very many of its inhabitants.
- So flees the squirrel from the rattlesnake, and runs in its haste deliberately into the mouth of its tormentor. I am [Nature] that from which thou fleest.
- Whilst they discussed these and similar questions, two lions are said to have suddenly appeared. The beasts were so enfeebled and emaciated with hunger that they were scarcely able to devour the Icelander. They accomplished the feat however, and thus gained sufficient strength to live to the end of the day.
- Giacomo Leopardi, "Dialogue Between Nature and an Icelander", Essays and Dialogues (1882), p. 79
- Most Australian mammals are now protected by law to some degree, but this protection has come too late to prevent the endangerment of many species that, like the Tasmanian Tiger, may yet face extinction. Massive human predation of koalas for their fur and to clear land for farming and building, for example, coupled with ongoing loss of habitat, has meant that these iconic Australian animals are no longer a common sight across their once extensive range.
- Today, snares remain prevalent around the world. They are used in subsistence and commercial hunting (including the fur trade), poaching (including the bushmeat trade), recreational bushcraft, population control, predator and "pset" species control and occasionally research.
- Libby Anderson, Snares and snaring, in: Andrew Linzey (ed. by), The Global Guide to Animal Protection, University of Illinois Press, 2013, p. 79
- Firefly females of the genus Photuris, long known to be carnivorous, attract and devour males of the genus Photinus by mimicking the flash-responses of Photinus females.
- James E. Lloyd in: Aggressive Mimicry in Photuris: Firefly Femmes Fatales in Science 6 August 1965: Vol. 149 no. 3684 pp. 653-654, sciencemag.org
- Animals do not survive by rational thought (nor by sign languages allegedly taught to them by psychologists). They survive through inborn reflexes and sensory-perceptual association. They cannot reason. They cannot learn a code of ethics. A lion is not immoral for eating a zebra (or even for attacking a man). Predation is their natural and only means of survival; they do not have the capacity to learn any other.
- In the immense sphere of living things, the obvious rule is violence, a kind of inevitable frenzy which arms all things in mutua funera. Once you leave the world of insensible substances, you find the decree of violent death written on the very frontiers of life. Even in the vegetable kingdom, this law can be perceived: from the huge catalpa to the smallest of grasses, how many plants die and how many are killed! But once you enter the animal kingdom, the law suddenly becomes frighteningly obvious. A power at once hidden and palpable appears constantly occupied in bringing to light the principle of life by violent means. In each great division of the animal world, it has chosen a certain number of animals charged with devouring the others; so there are insects of prey, reptiles of prey, birds of prey, fish of prey, and quadrupeds of prey. There is not an instant of time when some living creature is not devoured by another [...] Thus is worked out, from maggots up to man, the universal law of the violent destruction of living beings. The whole earth, continually steeped in blood, is nothing but an immense altar on which every living thing must be sacrificed without end, without restraint, without respite until the consummation of the world, the extinction of evil, the death of death.
- ...the most vicious predators, like most dread disease-causing microbes, bring about their own ruin by killing their victims. Restrained predation—the attack that doesn't kill or does kill only slowly—is a recurring theme in evolution. The predatory precursors of mitochondria invaded and exploited their hosts, but the prey resisted. Forced to be content with an expendable part of the prey (its waste)... some mitochondria precursors grew but never killed their providers. ...The original prey was probably a larger bacterium... - Leslie A. Real]]
- Lynn Margulis in: Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors (1986), University of California Press, 1986, p. 130
- The lioness sinks her scimitar talons into the zebra's rump. They rip through the tough hide and anchor deep into the muscle. The startled animal lets out a loud bellow as its body hits the ground. An instant later the lioness releases her claws from its buttocks and sinks her teeth into the zebra's throat, choking off the sound of terror. Her canine teeth are long and sharp, but an animal as large as a zebra has a massive neck, with a thick layer of muscle beneath the skin, so although the teeth puncture the hide they are too short to reach any major blood vessels. She must therefore kill the zebra by asphyxiation, clamping her powerful jaws around its trachea (windpipe), cutting off the air to its lungs. It is a slow death. If this had been a small animal, say a Thomson's gazelle (Gazella thomsoni) the size of a large dog, she would have bitten it through the nape of the neck; her canine teeth would then have probably crushed the vertebrae or the base of the skull, causing instant death. As it is, the zebra's death throes will last five or six minutes.
- Christopher McGowan in: The Raptor and the Lamb: Predators and Prey in the Living World (1997) ISBN 978-0788198014
- The suffering that animals undergo while being caught and eaten may be intense and the process by which they are killed may last for a quarter of an hour or more. Because the number of predators worldwide is enormous, and because, like us, many of them must eat with considerable frequency, the aggregate amount of suffering in the world at any time that is caused by predation is unimaginably vast.
- Viewed from a distance, the natural world often presents a vista of sublime, majestic placidity. Yet beneath the foliage and hidden from the distant eye, a vast, unceasing slaughter rages. Wherever there is animal life, predators are stalking, chasing, capturing, killing, and devouring their prey. Agonized suffering and violent death are ubiquitous and continuous.
- The endangered western stock of the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) – the largest of the eared seals – has declined by 80% from population levels encountered four decades ago. Current overall trends from the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutian Islands appear neutral with strong regional heterogeneities...[studies] suggest predation on juvenile sea lions as the largest impediment to recovery of the species in the eastern Gulf of Alaska region...[study conclusion also suggests] the distinct possibility of predation as a major component of Steller sea lion population dynamics in particular at intermediate and low abundance levels.
- Markus Horning, Jo-Ann E. Mellish in: Predation on an Upper Trophic Marine Predator, the Steller Sea Lion: Evaluating High Juvenile Mortality in a Density Dependent Conceptual Framework, PMC , US National Library of Medicine
- If there are any marks at all of special design in creation, one of the things most evidently designed is that a large proportion of all animals should pass their existence in tormenting and devouring other animals. They have been lavishly fitted out with the instruments necessary for that purpose; their strongest instincts impel them to it, and many of them seem to have been constructed incapable of supporting themselves by any other food. If a tenth part of the pains which have been expended in finding benevolent adaptations in all nature, had been employed in collecting evidence: to blacken the character of the Creator, what scope for comment would not have been found in the entire existence of the lower animals, divided, with scarcely an exception, into devourers and devoured, and a prey to a thousand ills from which they are denied the faculties necessary for protecting themselves! If were not obliged to believe the animal creation to be the work of a demon, it is because we need not suppose it to have been made by a Being of infinite power. But if imitation of the Creator's will as revealed in nature, were applied as a rule of action in this case, the most atrocious enormities of the worst men would be more than justified by the apparent intention of Providence that throughout all animated nature the strong should prey upon the weak.
- Why tinker with the plain truth that we hurry the darker races to their graves in order to take their land & its riches? Wolves don't sit in their caves, concocting crapulous theories of race to justify devouring a flock of sheep! "Intellectual courage"? True "intellectual courage" is to dispense with these fig leaves & admit all peoples are predatory, but White predators, with our deadly duet of disease dust & firearms, are examplars of predacity par excellence, & what of it?
- 'You didn't build that' will be Obama's political epitaph: With these remarks, Obama has come out of the closet as a most odious collectivist, who believes religiously that government predation is a condition for production Or, put simply, that the parasite created the host.
- All over the non-human world, with few exceptions, each being seeks the satisfaction of his own desires, if not with positive disregard for the happiness and misery of the rest of the universe, at least with sincere unconcern. There is no courtesy, sympathy, or amenity there—a cold, heartless, implacable world of strangers.
- The chief activities of beings, both human and non-human, are put forth, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of procuring food. The suppression, entire or partial, of one being by another for nutritive purposes is, therefore, the form of the most frequent and excessive egoism. The lowly forms of life—the worms, echinoderms, mollusks, and the like—are, for the most part, vegetarians. So, also, are prevalently the insects, birds, rodents, and ungulates. These creatures are not, as a rule, aggressively harmful to each other, chiefly indifferent. But upon these inoffensive races feed with remorseless maw the reptilia, the insectivora, and the carnivora. These being-eaters cause to the earth-world its bloodiest experiences. It is their nature (established organically by long selection, or, as in the case of man, acquired tentatively) to subsist, not on the kingdom of the plant, the natural and primal storehouse of animal energy, but on the skeletons and sensibilities of their neighbors and friends. The serpent dines on the sparrow and the sparrow ingulfs the gnat; the tiger slays the jungle-fowl and the coyote plunders the lamb; the seal subsists on fish and the ursus maritimus subsists on seal; the ant enslaves the aphidae and man eats and enslaves what can not get away from him. Life riots on life—tooth and talon, beak and paw. It is a sickening contemplation, But life everywhere, in its aspect of activity, is largely made up of the struggle by one being against another for existence—of the effort by one being to circumvent, subjugate, or destroy another, and of the counter effort to reciprocate or escape.
- Predators make it much more difficult to find consensus. It's a lot easier to agree about birds and plants than about animals that endanger people and livestock.
- Gale Norton in: David Knibb Grizzly Wars: The Public Fight Over the Great Bear, Eastern Washington University Press, Jan 1, 2008, p. 258
- It is easy to romanticise, say, tigers or lions and cats. We admire their magnificent beauty, strength and agility. But we would regard their notional human counterparts as wanton psychopaths of the worst kind.
- Think about Praying Mantis. The deadliest ninja predator. Why isn't his animus a lion or a polar bear - two of the most successful killing machines in the animal kingdom? The answer is that these animals would not be right for him. Think how a praying mantis is invisible on a leaf, how they are carnivores who will devour their own species. The female will even eat her own partner once they've mated and, as hatchlings, their first meal is often one of their own siblings. These are the things that matter to Praying Mantis - and if you study his attributes, they are elements that will help you defeat him.
- At the top of the pyramid—the terminal step—is a population of predators not generally subject to predation themselves.
- David Quammen in: Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind, W. W. Norton & Company, 17 September 2004
- The suffering and death I saw seemed to me in some meaningful respect lamentable—that is, unfortunate, regrettable, worthy of sadness, the kind of thing it would be better if the world did not involve. What can be said for such a response, and what against it? Can my lamentation be rationally defended as appropriate, or must it be viewed as nothing more than mawkish sentimentalism? How should we view the fact that some animals need to kill other animals in order to live? Can a world in which animals did not kill each other, and indeed did not need to do so in order to live, plausibly be called a better one?
- Ty Raterman in: "An Environmentalist's Lament on Predation", Environmental Ethics, Vol. 30, Iss. 4 (Winter 2008), p. 419
- Predators merely remove surplus animals, ones that would succumb even in the absence of natural enemies. P.L. Errington exempts certain predator-prey relations from this scheme, however, and quotes the predation of wolves on deer as an example where predation probably is not related to the carrying capacity of the habitat.
- Leslie A. Real, James H. Brown in: Foundations of Ecology: Classic Papers with Commentaries, University of Chicago Press, 20 December 2012, p. 526
- The principle of natural selection is not obviously a humanitarian principle; the predator-prey relation does not depend on moral empathy. Nature ruthlessly limits animal populations by doing violence to virtually every individual before it reaches maturity; these conditions respect animal equality only in the darkest sense.
- Mark Sagoff in: "Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce", (1984), Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 22, Iss. 2 (1984), p. 299
- Where we can prevent prevent predation without occasioning as much or more suffering than we would prevent, we are obligated to do so by the principle that we are obligated to alleviate avoidable animal suffering. Where we cannot prevent or cannot do so without occasioning as much or more suffering than we would prevent, that principle does not obligate us us to attempt attempt to prevent predation.
- Baldner contends that is "arrogant" and "paternalistic" morally to condemn something as definitive of the natural order as predation. However, it is in the nature of morality to devise ideals of a better world and to work toward realizing them. This entails judging this world to be less than ideal and working to change it. One could restrict moral evaluations to the products of human activity, but that would be arbitrary: what makes suffering (prima facie) morally bad is not that it is the result of human activity but that it is suffering. Our commitment to making the world a morally better place impels us to make moral evaluations of the natural order. There need be nothing either arrogant or paternalistic in making and acting on such evaluations, provided we recognize the very limited nature of our understanding and our power to make improvements.
- Steve Sapontzis in: "Dicussion: Environmental Ethics and the Locus of Value", Between the Species (Winter 1990), p. 9
- [A]nimals are not just subject to suffering like man, but subject to much more suffering; their existence is considered to be extremely unhappy, not only because they are exploited and tortured by man but also in nature itself, where the weaker one is threatened and devoured by the stronger, and, moreover, because at least many of them live on disgusting food or in uncomfortable places.
- One simple test of the claim that the pleasure in the world outweighs the pain [...] is to compare the feelings of an animal that is devouring another with those of the animal being devoured.
- [H]e saw in Java a plain far as the eye could reach entirely covered with skeletons, and took it for a battlefield; they were, however, merely the skeletons of large turtles, five feet long and three feet broad, and the same height, which come this way out of the sea in order to lay their eggs, and are then attacked by wild dogs , who with their united strength lay them on their backs, strip off their lower armour, that is, the small shell of the stomach, and so devour them alive. But often then a tiger pounces upon the dogs. Now all this misery repeats itself thousands and thousands of times, year out, year in. For this, then, these turtles are born. For whose guilt must they suffer this torment? Where fore the whole scene of horror? To this the only answer is: it is thus that the will to live objectifies itself.
- Remove the predators, and the whole ecosystem begins to crash like a house of cards. As the sharks disappear, the predator-prey balance dramatically shifts, and the health of our oceans declines.
- I think that most people would associate big schools of fish with healthy coral reefs. At Kingman, the predators keep the herd thin, so there aren't a lot of big fish schools.
- Brian Skerry in: Field Notes Interview by Amanda MacEvitt and Glynnis McPhee, National Geographic Magazine - NGM.com
- I have come to view vegetarianism as a standing protest against predation, which is life's greatest evil. If there were no other argument in its favor, that would be sufficient.
- Alexander Skutch in: Thoughts, Vol. 5 (31 Dec. 1960)
- [Predation is] a great evil that a wise or benevolent creator would have avoided.
- Earth has no more distressing spectacle than that of a predator suddenly striking down some defenseless creature innocently singing or attending its young, no sight more pitifully repulsive than the hideously mangled remains of what, a few hours before, was a beautiful animal enjoying its life.
- Alexander Skutch in: "The Imperative Call", American Birds, Vol. 47, Iss. 1 (Spring 1993), p. 31–32
- Not long ago I was sleeping in a cabin in the woods and was awoken in the middle of the night by the sounds of a struggle between two animals. Cries of terror and extreme agony rent the night, intermingled with the sounds of jaws snapping bones and flesh being torn from limbs. One animal was being savagely attacked, killed and then devoured by another. [I]t seems to me that the horror I experienced on that dark night in the woods was a veridical insight. What I experienced was a brief and terrifying glimpse into the ultimately evil dimension of a godless world.
- Quentin Smith, "An Atheological Argument from Evil Natural Laws", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 29, Iss. 3 (1991)
- For many decades, ecology textbooks presented classical competition theory without reservation. The central principle here is that two species sharing an essential resource that is in limited supply cannot coexist for long because the competitively superior species will eliminate the other one. The implication is that ecological communities should be characterized by division of resources among species, or niche partitioning.
Predation and physical disturbance inflict so much damage on biotas of the seafloor that populations of one species seldom monopolize a potentially limiting resource, except sporadically and locally. As a result, it is uncommon for any species to drive another to extinction through competitive exclusion—or even to force another species to drastically change its exploitation of any environmental resource throughout its geographic range.
- Naysayers at their polite best chided the rewilders for romanticizing the past; at their sniping worst, for tempting a 'Jurassic Park' disaster. To these the rewilders quietly voiced a sad and stinging reply. The most dangerous experiment is already underway. The future most to be feared is the one now dictated by the status quo. In vanquishing our most fearsome beasts from the modern world, we have released worse monsters from the compound. They come in disarmingly meek and insidious forms, in chewing plagues of hoofed beasts and sweeping hordes of rats and cats and second-order predators. They come in the form of denuded seascapes and barren forests, ruled by jellyfish and urchins, killer deer and sociopathic monkeys. They come as haunting demons of the human mind. In conquering the fearsome beasts, the conquerors had unwittingly orphaned themselves.
- William Stolzenburg in: Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jan 15, 2011
- Heartless though it may seem to some, among the least harmful things to eat are sustainably culled wild animals. In the absence of natural predators, deer populations in parts of Britain have reached such dense numbers that the woodlands they browse fail to regenerate.
- Nature can be cruel. Predators are everywhere. Those who don't need to be protected from outside forces often need to be protected from themselves. In society, women are referred to as "the fairer sex". But in the wild, the female species can be far more ferocious than their male counterparts. Defending the nest is both our oldest and strongest instinct. And sometimes, it can also be the most gratifying.
- [W]hile many animals appear to endure such conditions rather calmly, this doesn't necessarily mean they aren't suffering. Sick and injured members of a prey species are the easiest to catch, so predators deliberately target these individuals. As a consequence, those prey that appear sick or injured will be the ones killed most often. Thus, evolutionary pressure pushes prey species to avoid drawing attention to their suffering.
- Brian Tomasik in: "The Importance of Wild-Animal Suffering", Foundational Research Institute (Jul. 2009)
- And even for the survivors, life involves a constant struggle to find enough food, avoid predators, and overcome sickness and injury for a few brief years (or months) before death comes at the jaws of a predator or the grip of a parasite. Pain is a powerful motivational tool, and evolution has no qualms about using it to maximum effect.
- Brian Tomasik in: "Should We Intervene in Nature?", Essays on Reducing Suffering (Fall 2009)
- When the predatory habit of life has been settled upon the group by long habituation, it becomes the able-bodied man's accredited office in the social economy or elude him, to overcome and reduce to subservience those alien forces that assert themselves refractorily in the environment.
- Thorstein Veblen in: The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, B. W. Huebsch, 1912, p. 14-15
- Predation can not become the habitual, conventional resource of any group or any class until industrial methods have been developed to such a degree of efficiency as to leave a margin worth fighting for, above the subsistence of those engaged in getting a living....The early development of tools and of weapons is of course the same fact seen from two different points of view. ...The predatory phase of culture is therefore conceived to come on gradually.
- Thorstein Veblen in: "The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions", p. 20
- Man and animals are really the passage and the conduit of food, the sepulchre of animals and resting place of the dead, one causing the death of the other, making themselves the covering for the corruption of other dead [bodies].
- The simple facts are that both predation and starvation are painful prospects for deer, and that the lion's lot is no more enviable.
- George C. Williams in: Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought (1966), p. 255
- What had been released into the desert vacuum and starry oases of the galaxy was the inexorable logic of reproduction and natural selection. What followed was parasitism, predation, symbiosis, interdependency—chaos, complexity, life.
- Well, let me tell you, ants are the dominant insects. They make up as much as a quarter of the biomass of all insects in the world. They are the principal predators. They're the cemetery workers.
- E. O. Wilson in: David Pogue An Interview With E.O. Wilson, the Father of the Encyclopedia of Life, The New York Times, October 23, 2008
- In prehistoric times, Homo sapiens were deeply endangered. Early humans were less fleet of foot, with fewer natural weapons and less well-honed senses than all the predators that threatened them. Moreover, they were hampered in their movements by the need to protect their uniquely immature young - juicy meals for any hungry beast.
Ecology of Predator-Prey Interactions
- What is a predator? The answer is relatively straightforward for many species: an animal that eats another animal. However, recent research has shown that for other species the answer is more complex and that predatory species may not be as diet-limited as previously assumed.
- In: p. 1
- Regardless of whether one defines predator-prey interactions narrowly or broadly, what is clear is that at one point or another in the lives of most animals they are predators, prey, or both.
- In: p. 2
- Variation in plant food, especially flowers, has a strong effect on the dispersal of most omnivorous insect predators.
- In: p. 8
- Historically, predation and competition has received much more attention than mutualism. This bias is exemplified in the attention given to inter-specific interactions in ecology textbooks.
- In: p. 18
- An individual's response to local predation risk is shaped by the conflicting demands of predator avoidance and the benefits associated with a suite of fitness-related behaviors, such as foraging, mating and terrestrial defense.
- Grant E. Brown, Douglas P. Chivers, in: p. 34
- ...predator avoidance can lead to delayed ontogenetic niche shifts, resulting in decreased growth rates
- A. C. Olson, et al., (1995) in: p. 35
- Trinidadian guppies from a high-predation population exhibited a more intense antipredator response than conspecifics from a low-predation-risk population.
- J. L. Kelley, A. E. Magurran (2003) in: p. 35
- Populations exposed to varying predation threats, over time, may be selected toward the use of a learned response, because it would allow individuals to optimize the threat-sensitive trade-offs between survival and other fitness related benefits.
- In: p. 36
- Whether a species is a traditional predator (or an omnivore), or whether it responds to predation risk with fixed rather than learned behaviors, its success as a predator or a prey is determined by the capacity and efficiency of its sensory organs.
- In: p. 73
- Interactions between predators and prey are a major driving force for evolution and adaptation in animals. In any single encounter, the prey has more at stake, because failure means death, whereas the predator misses only a feeding opportunity.
- In: p. 78
- Flying insects can exhibit other characteristics that protect them from bat predation (which may also reduce the selective pressure for evolving auditory defenses). In rare cases, nocturnal insects reduce their exposure to bat predation by becoming diurnal (and restricting their amount of time that they fly at night) or by flying only at dusk before bats emerge.
- J.H. Fullard, et al., in: p. 84
- A more common strategy some insects employ to avoid bad predation is to continue flying at night but to vary their seasonal activity (either just after or before bats hibernate).
- O. Svensson, et al., in: p. 84
- Both predation and predator evasion are expensive and themselves dangerous. Some of the costs are metabolic, and these costs have been studied at length. Potentially more important, however, are the structural and behavioral trade-offs animals must make to be successful predators or long lived prey.
- In: p. 98
- The ability of animals to perceive changes in predation risk forms the foundation on which the nonlethal effects of predators are transmitted to prey populations and communities.
- Steven L. Lima, Todd D. Steury in: p. 166
- Recent neurological work suggests that the amygdala (in the vertebrate midbrain) is a key component in the assessment of predation risk and that differences in risk perception may reflect differences in the neural architecture of the amygdala.
- In: p. 167
- Sensory compensation is probably common in animals, for just about every species has at least two sensory modes that might be directed toward predator detection.
- A. Mathis and F. Vincent (2000) in: p. 172
- The Challenge of Eating versus Being Eaten: Most prey that respond to predators also face a trade-off between increased survival in the presence of predators and slower growth and development. For example, many species of rotifers and cladocerons develop spines in response to fish and invertebrate predators.
- In: p. 193
- The extent that habitat structure influences spatial processes (e.g., numerical responses of predators, their inter-habitat dispersal, edge effects, and thus the coupling of predator-prey interactions in habitats compromised by human activity (e.g., fragmented landscapes) is also of immediate concern in conservation biology.
- D.T. Bolger, et al., in: p. 213
- Diverse feeding habits might act to buffer predator populations against fluctuations in nutrient availability of particular prey species.
- Micky D. Eubanks, Robert F. Denno (1999) in: p. 377