Learning to Kill The Acquisition of Hunting Skills by Predators Research Paper

  • Length: 11 pages
  • Sources: 22
  • Subject: Animals / Animal Rights
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #48929718
  • Related Topics: Nature, Ecosystem, Food, Hunting

Excerpt from Research Paper :


The relationship between a predator and a prey is quite essential to the dynamics in the wild. Various classic approaches have been employed in the attempt to predict and comprehend the nature of the consumptive interaction between a predator and a prey (Schmitz, 2017). Using this approach has not yielded any sufficient insight on the context and complexity that is characteristic of the relationship between predators and preys. Schmitz (2017) recounts the approaches recently applied in the exploration of these relationships from the evolutionary ecological environment. The approaches entail the context through which both the prey and the predator adapt into their environment through their reciprocal interactions that entail functional traits expressions influenced by the biomechanics of the wild animals (Schmitz, 2017).

Functional characteristics can be defined as the behavioural, physiological or morphological traits espoused by organisms in relation to their biotic interactions (Schmitz, 2017). These characteristics may include the personality, body size, prey mobility, physiological stress of the prey, anti-predatory behaviour, and the hunting mobility of the predator (Schmitz, 2017). Evidential information suggests that the impact of the interaction between predators and preys is influenced by the magnitude of functional traits espoused by the wild animals. Furthermore the functional characteristics of the predator may be activated by the risk responses from the prey (Schmitz et al., 2015). The interactions between the prey and the predator may subsequently result to dynamic feedbacks likely to alter the interaction context between the predator and the prey (Ferriere & Legendre, 2013).

These dynamic feedbacks that redefine interactions between the prey and the predator are encompassed in the rapid evolutionary or the phenotypically plastic responses (Yampolsky, Schaer & Ebert, 2013). Studying the interactions between predators and preys through the adaptive ecological evolutionary lens provides a basis upon which the magnitude and nature of interactions between preys and predators can be explained (Allen, Nowak & Dieckmann, 2013). This discourse investigates the acquisition of functional characteristics by predators that make it possible for them hunt their prey successfully. The paper will discuss what a predators is, balance of nature, predators role in the ecosystem, hunting strategies, and adaptive behaviours.


Hunting Adaptations by a Predator

The relationship between the predator and the prey is fundamental to the sustenance of healthy ecosystems (Walsh et al., 2016). The predatory skills coupled with the prey defence strategies dictate the health of the ecosystem environment. Each of the two sides must adapt to the dynamic nature of the environment in order to support their survival. For instance, if a prey has the ability to move then the predator must adapt faster movement technics. Animals that fail to adapt will get eaten or starve to death. According to Walsh et al. (2016), the diversity of wild animal traits does not explain the general routine trends. This is because diversity does not consider the trait expression diversity as organisms respond adaptively to various contexts of the environment such as changes in consumer pressure and resource quality.


Predators can be defined as the wild animals that prey or hunt other animals. Every living thing needs food to survive. Predators depend on flesh from other animals in order to survive (Idaho Public Television, 2018). They have to adapt killer instincts for this purpose. Wolves, lions, hawks, bears, tigers etc. are types of wild animals. Predators are carnivorous. This means that their food is meat. Other predators like bears and coyotes are categorized as scavengers. Scavengers eat carcasses from animals they never hunted (Gravel et al., 2016). Preys are the animals that are hunted and eaten by predators. Some animals of prey include the herbivores and the omnivores.

According to Toscano and Griffen (2014) the functional response of predators is inherent to the comprehension of the population dynamics of predators. The behavior response depends on rate at which predators attach their prey and the time they take in eating them. Predators have different shapes and sizes. The sizes are genetically engineered for the purpose of adaptation. Steiner and Masse (2013) suggested that heterogeneity among prey animals is an essential stabilizer to the interaction between preys and predators. Heterogeneity is the factor that helps in minimizing the oscillation of wildlife populations and helps enhance the population level of prey animals. Predators form an essential food chain component. The food chain provides a medium through which energy is transferred from an organism to another. Plants form the first connection in food chain process and they use the sun for photosynthesis (making food). Plants are referred to as producers in the food chain. Plants depend on nutrition and the biodiversity of underground organisms (Bardgett & Van Der Putten, 2014). In order for the ecosystem to remain in balance as suggested by Toscano and Griffen (2014) the process of energy transfer from the producers to the predators has to be systematic.

Balance of Nature

Prey and predator relationship can be explained by the balance of nature concept (Simberloff, 2014). Natural ecosystems have some level of balance. Animal and plant numbers in any ecosystem will often tend to approach a certain limit within which balance is maintained. Animal populations are not only influenced by predatory behaviours of the wild animals. Factors such as competition, availability of food, weather patterns and disease influence species abundance (Bardgett and Van Der Putten, 2014). Predators in any ecosystem will control prey species populations. This characteristic is…

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…purpose of breathing but for sensing smell. Through water movements the shark can recognise different smells from as far as 2 miles (Benoit-Bird et al., 2013). Brain and genomic expansion make the sense of smell among ants to be quite elaborate and advanced (d’Ettorre, 2016). They can avoid potential danger and locate food from far distances.

Camouflage: Some of the unique predatory characteristics are considered adaptations. The camouflage adaptation characteristic is employed both by the prey and the predator. Nature has afforded various animals the ability to conceal their presence. Preys and predators can camouflage. Colour camouflage is one of the ways animals conceal themselves (Troscianko, Skelhorn & Stevens, 2017). This is the reason why jungle animals have green fur while desert animals have brown colour. Counter shading is another type of camouflage. Counter shaded animals are dark on the body tops and lighter on bottom side. The animals look flat and one-coloured when viewed from a far distance. Disruptive coloration is another camouflage (Troscianko, Skelhorn & Stevens, 2017). These are strong contrasts with uneven marks like stripes and spots. Zebras are this way. They help to conceal them when grazing near bushes and trees. Tigers also have disruptive coloration to help them conceal themselves during hunting. Some animals will change their colour depending on the season. This makes it possible for them to perfectly fit in their environment depending on the new changes (Marshall, Philpot & Stevens, 2016). Mimicry and imitation can also be used to camouflage. Some animals will appear as though they belong to a different species than their own depending on their environment. A grasshopper can look like a leaf that is dry. Bright colours can be used as self-defence tactics. The bright colour is often poisonous. It may also have a taste or smell that is quite unpleasant.

Comparing Predators and Preys



Forward facing eyes

Sideways facing eyes

Binocular vision

Peripheral vision

Narrow vision

Wide view vision

Sharp tearing teeth

Grinding teeth

Jaws that move upwards and downwards

Jaws that move in sideway motions

Larger brain

Smaller brain


This this research it can be deduced that predators espouse adaptive traits to help them pursue, capture and devour their prey. Various adaptive behaviours and traits can be passed from the parents to the offspring. Predators like eagles, lions and cheetahs will actually teach their young ones hunting skills when they are still young. The application of dynamic feedbacks as suggested by Ferriere and Legendre (2013) makes it possible for both the prey and the predator to acquire new strategies to dominate and capture their prey. Predators will in fact…

Sources Used in Document:


Allen, B., Nowak, M. A., & Dieckmann, U. (2013). Adaptive Dynamics with Interaction Structure. The American Naturalist, 181(6), E139–E163. https://doi.org/10.1086/670192

Bardgett, R. D., & Van Der Putten, W. H. (2014). Belowground biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Nature. Nature Publishing Group. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13855

Benoit-Bird, K. J., Battaile, B. C., Heppell, S. A., Hoover, B., Irons, D., Jones, N., … Trites, A. W. (2013). Prey Patch Patterns Predict Habitat Use by Top Marine Predators with Diverse Foraging Strategies. PLoS ONE, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053348

Carr, C. E., & Christensen-Dalsgaard, J. (2015). Sound localization strategies in three predators. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 86, 17–27. https://doi.org/10.1159/000435946

d’Ettorre, P. (2016). Genomic and brain expansion provide ants with refined sense of smell. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(49), 13947–13949. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1617405113

Ferriere, R., & Legendre, S. (2013). Eco-evolutionary feedbacks, adaptive dynamics and evolutionary rescue theory. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Royal Society. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2012.0081

Gravel, D., Albouy, C., & Thuiller, W. (2016). The meaning of functional trait composition of food webs for ecosystem functioning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Royal Society of London. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0268

Heynen, M., Bunnefeld, N., & Borcherding, J. (2017). Facing different predators: Adaptiveness of behavioral and morphological traits under predation. Current Zoology, 63(3), 249–257. https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zow056

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