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Predatory senescence in ageing wolves

Ecology Letters

By:
, , , , , and
DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01385.x

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Abstract

It is well established that ageing handicaps the ability of prey to escape predators, yet surprisingly little is known about how ageing affects the ability of predators to catch prey. Research into long-lived predators has assumed that adults have uniform impacts on prey regardless of age. Here we use longitudinal data from repeated observations of individually-known wolves (Canis lupus) hunting elk (Cervus elaphus) in Yellowstone National Park to demonstrate that adult predatory performance declines with age and that an increasing ratio of senescent individuals in the wolf population depresses the rate of prey offtake. Because this ratio fluctuates independently of population size, predatory senescence may cause wolf populations of equal size but different age structure to have different impacts on prey populations. These findings suggest that predatory senescence is an important, though overlooked, factor affecting predator-prey dynamics. ?? 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Predatory senescence in ageing wolves
Series title:
Ecology Letters
DOI:
10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01385.x
Volume
12
Issue:
12
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Ecology Letters
First page:
1347
Last page:
1356