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Inter-specific interactions linking predation and scavenging in terrestrial vertebrate assemblages



Predation and scavenging have been classically understood as independent processes, with predator–prey interactions and scavenger–carrion relationships occurring separately. However, the mere recognition that most predators also scavenge at variable rates, which has been traditionally ignored in food-web and community ecology, leads to a number of emergent interaction routes linking predation and scavenging. The general goal of this review is to draw attention to the main inter-specific interactions connecting predators (particularly, large mammalian carnivores), their live prey (mainly ungulates), vultures and carrion production in terrestrial assemblages of vertebrates. Overall, we report an intricate network of both direct (competition, facilitation) and indirect (hyperpredation, hypopredation) processes, and provide a conceptual framework for the future development of this promising topic in ecological, evolutionary and biodiversity conservation research. The classic view that scavenging does not affect the population dynamics of consumed organisms is questioned, as multiple indirect top-down effects emerge when considering carrion and its facultative consumption by predators as fundamental and dynamic components of food webs. Stimulating although challenging research opportunities arise from the study of the interactions among living and detrital or non-living resource pools in food webs.