A recipe for scavenging in vertebrates - the natural history of a behaviour

Adam Kane*, Kevin Healy, Thomas Guillerme, Graeme D. Ruxton, Andrew L. Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Despite its prevalence, the importance of scavenging to carnivores is difficult to ascertain in modern day forms and impossible to study directly in extinct species. Yet, there are certain intrinsic and environmental features of a species that push it towards a scavenging lifestyle. These can be thought of as some of the principal parameters in optimal foraging theory namely, encounter rate and handling time. We use these components to highlight the morphologies and environments that would have been conducive to scavenging over geological time by focusing on the dominant vertebrate groups of the land, sea and air. The result is a synthesis on the natural history of scavenging. The features that make up our qualitative scale of scavenging can be applied to any given species and allow us to judge the likely importance of this foraging behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-334
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Early online date5 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Scavenging
  • Carrion
  • Vertebrates


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