Understanding how mammalian scavengers use information from avian scavengers: cue from above


  • Joint first authors.


  1. Interspecific social information transfer can play a key role in many aspects of animal ecology from foraging to habitat selection to predator avoidance.
  2. Within scavenging communities, avian scavengers often act as producers and mammalian scavengers act as scroungers, but we predict that species-specific cueing will allow for mammalian scavengers to utilize particular avian scavenger species using preferred food sources similar to their own preferences.
  3. We use empirical and theoretic approaches to assess interactions between mammalian and avian scavengers in one of the most diverse scavenging guilds in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.
  4. Using a spatially explicit model and data from experimental carcasses, we found evidence that mammals benefit from local enhancement provided by vultures and that mammalian-avian following patterns are consistent with the idea that species-specific cueing is occurring.
  5. Results suggest that ongoing population declines in avian scavengers may have significant impacts on mammalian scavengers and potentially create trophic cascades.