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Keywords:

  • carrion;
  • community structure;
  • consumption time;
  • detection time;
  • Lepus spp.;
  • nestedness;
  • Oryctolagus cuniculus ;
  • small carcass;
  • vulture

Carrion consumption patterns in vertebrate scavenger communities may be influenced by several interacting factors. We assessed the effects of the number of scavenger species and the presence of obligate scavengers (vultures) on carcass detection and consumption times, and the structure (nestedness) of the scavenger assemblage by exploring consumption patterns of lagomorph carcasses provided experimentally. Carcass detection and consumption times were strongly inversely related to vulture presence, whereas scavenger richness had a low contribution, except when interacting with vulture presence. However, none of the scavenger communities presented a nested pattern, perhaps because of the small size of lagomorphs, which prevents large numbers of scavengers and interspecific interactions occurring at one carcass. Our results suggest that scavenger species richness, especially the presence of vultures, increases scavenging efficiency.