DTP Conference 2016: Perspectives on Environmental Change

  • Angharad Jones (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


The influence of interspecific competition on the relationship between abundance of spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and its prey across Africa: lessons for the past

Jones, A., Carbone, C. and Schreve, D.
The fluctuating environmental conditions during the Pleistocene elicited changes in the mammalian species present in Europe, influencing the prey of the spotted hyaena and its carnivore competitors. Understanding the interactions between modern populations of spotted hyaena, its prey and other large predators may therefore yield important proxy information for interpreting ecological interactions in the past.
Carnivore abundance is primarily controlled by prey abundance with a positive relationship (Carbone & Gittleman 2002), although the ratio between predator and prey biomass is lower in areas with higher prey biomass, as predator biomass increases at a lower rate relative to prey (Hatton et al. 2015). However, for individual predator species, competition for food may mediate this interaction. In Africa, spotted hyaenas co-occur with other large predators: lion, cheetah, leopard, wild dog, brown hyaena, and occasionally striped hyaena. The most important of these in terms of competition appears to be the lion, which,alongside spotted hyaena, is frequently the most abundant large predator, both in terms of density and biomass. Furthermore, while spotted hyaena may take food from lions through confrontational scavenging, they are less successful in this endeavour than with other predators (Mills 1990), often waiting until lions have departed from the kill (Bearder 1977). Conversely, lions have been observed to appropriate substantial amounts of food from spotted hyaenas (Kruuk 1972; Honer et al. 2002).
This paper discusses whether the presence of other large predators, particularly lion, mediates the relationship between prey abundance and spotted hyaena abundance across Africa, and what this evidence can reveal regarding predator and prey dynamics with respect to the Pleistocene record.
Bearder, S.K., 1977. Feeding habits of spotted hyaenas in a woodland habitat. East African Wildlife Journal, 15, pp.263–280.
Carbone, C. & Gittleman, J.L., 2002. A common rule for the scaling of carnivore diversity. Science, 295(5563), pp.2273–2276.
Hatton, I.A., McCann, K.S., Fryxell, J.M., Davies, T.J., Smerlak, M., Sinclair, A.R.E. & Loreau, M., 2015. The predator-prey power law: biomass scaling across terrestrial and aquatic biomes. Science, 349(6252), pp.1–13.
Hayward, M.W. & Kerley, G.I.H., 2008. Prey preferences and dietary overlap amongst Africa’s large predators. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 38(2), pp.93–108.
Kruuk, H., 1972. The Spotted Hyena: a study of predation and social behavior, Chicago: The University of Chicago.
Mills, M.G.L., 1990. Kalahari Hyenas: comparative behavioral ecology of two species, Caldwell, New Jersey: The Blackburn Press.
Period1 Sept 20162 Sept 2016
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map