Interspecific Killing among Mammalian Carnivores

Am Nat. 1999 May;153(5):492-508. doi: 10.1086/303189.


Interspecific killing among mammalian carnivores is common in nature and accounts for up to 68% of known mortalities in some species. Interactions may be symmetrical (both species kill each other) or asymmetrical (one species kills the other), and in some interactions adults of one species kill young but not adults of the other. There is a positive significant relationship between the body masses of solitary killer species and body masses of their victim species, and grouping species kill larger victims than solitary species. Interactions and consumption of the victim appear more common when food is scarce or disputed. In response to killers, victim species may alter their use of space, activity patterns, and form groups. Consequences of interspecific killing include population reduction or even extinction, and reduction and enhancement of prey populations, and may therefore have important implications for conservation and management of carnivores and their prey.

Keywords: carnivores; interspecific killing; intraguild predation; mesopredator release; population and community effects.