Computer Sciences

Modelling explains how hunters team up to catch faster prey

Seeing a chase play out between predator and prey on a wildlife documentary is a familiar sight for many. But in situations where the prey is faster than the hunters, how do the hunters get the upper hand?


In ecology, predation describes 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 always results in the death of the prey. The other main category of consumption is detritivory, the consumption of dead organic material (detritus). It can at times be difficult to separate the two feeding behaviors, for example where parasitic species prey on a host organism and then lay their eggs on it for their offspring to feed on its decaying corpse. The key characteristic of predation however is the predator's direct impact on the prey population. On the other hand, detritivores simply eat what is available and have no direct impact on the "donor" organism(s).

Selective pressures imposed on one another has led to an evolutionary arms race between prey and predator, resulting in various antipredator adaptations.

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