Understanding how mammalian scavengers use information from avian scavengers: cue from above
- Interspecific social information transfer can play a key role in many aspects of animal ecology from foraging to habitat selection to predator avoidance.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Results suggest that ongoing population declines in avian scavengers may have significant impacts on mammalian scavengers and potentially create trophic cascades.