Within an ecological community there are hundreds of different interactions between the different species, all these interactions are aimed at Keep the balance within the community and therefore the ecosystem.
One of the most important relationships is the one created between a predator and its prey, therefore, in this AnimalWised article, we will talk about what are predatory animals, explaining this quality in detail, what types exist and we will also see some representative examples.You may also be interested in: Hoofed Animals - Meaning, Characteristics and Examples Index
- What is predation?
- Types of predators
- Examples of predators
What is predation?
Predation occurs when one organism kills and feeds on another, without having to belong both organisms to the Animal Kingdom, thus, the meaning of predators is that organism that hunts, kills and eats other beings.
The act of predation is a process that, normally, consumes a lot of energy both in the animal that hunts and in the hunted animal. But also, it provides energy to maintain the vital functions of the predator, causing the death of the prey animal. Predation therefore has two ecological functions At the individual level, as the physical state of the prey worsens abruptly, preventing future reproduction, and at the community level, as the number of prey animals is reduced..
When we think of predation, the first thing that comes to mind is the carnivorous interaction in which one animal kills another, such as an owl hunting mice or a fox preying on a rabbit. Perhaps the least obvious interactions are those involving several predatory individuals hunting larger prey, such as a group of wolves hunting a deer or a group of killer whales chasing a larger whale. This type of group predation it is also very common in ants, wasps or social spiders.
Something even less obvious is the seed predation which, at times, can constitute predation. Seeds are organisms that, under ideal circumstances, will grow into a plant. Therefore, the consumption of a seed kills the plant before it grows.
On the other hand, not all predators are animals. The carnivorous plants, Like the Venus flytrap, they consume insects to obtain the nitrogen supply they need and that the soil where they live lacks.
Types of predators
Focusing on the Animal Kingdom, we can differentiate between various types of predators:
- True or carnivorous predators: they are the animals that hunt their prey (always another animal), kill them and consume them in a short period of time. Find out more about carnivorous animals.
- Herbivores: they are the animals that feed on green plants, seeds or fruits. In principle, they do not have to end the life of the individual, but they can inflict different degrees of damage. Find out more about herbivorous animals.
- Parasitoids: They are insects that parasitize other insects in such a way that a female lays the eggs inside or on other insects, as the eggs hatch, the larvae devour their host to death.
- Parasites: there are animals that parasitize other animals, inflicting minor or serious damage, even death. Find out more about parasitism in animals.
- Cannibals: they are the animals that feed on individuals of their own species. Normally this fact occurs at specific moments in the animal's life cycle.
Examples of predators
There are many predatory animals, some of big size like the polar bear, probably the animal true predator largest on the earth's surface, reaching 3 meters high if it stands on its hind legs. This animal that lives in the Arctic, feeds mainly on seals and fish.
Another great predator is the blue whale, capable of ingesting thousands of fish and krill when it opens its mouth. In the ocean we also find tunas, powerful and fast marine predators.
On the other hand, a good example of parasitoid predators Are the wasps of the Braconidae family. The females of these wasps lay their eggs inside certain species of caterpillars. When the larvae hatch from the eggs, they begin to slowly devour the interior of the caterpillar, until they kill and emerge from it..
Although it may seem strange, cannibalism is very common in nature, However, the species that practice it only do so at certain times, like a male lion devouring the young of its defeated rival. The Bull frog, It can also feed on individuals of the same species but younger when there is overpopulation. The leopard seal, in times of famine, it can eat its own pups or other seals.
The praying mantis is one of the predatory insects more voracious, also practicing cannibalism when the female eats the male during copulation. Another predatory arthropod, although not an insect, is the scolopendra, and certain species can hunt even small birds or rodents..