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Definition: predation from The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology

A cover term for all those behaviours associated with an animal's hunting, attacking and seizing other organisms for food. Predator is used for the animal that carries out these behaviours, prey for the victim. adj., predatory.

Summary Article: predator
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Any animal that hunts, kills, and eats another animal (the prey). Predation is the method of feeding shown by a predator. Examples of predators include lions, which prey on antelope and zebra, owls, which prey on mice and rats, or sparrowhawks, which might prey on sparrows. Predators may affect the population size of their prey, and the population size of the prey may affect that of the predator. In a food chain predator and prey are placed next to each other to indicate the flow of energy from prey to predator. Predators may compete (see competition) with each other for prey. If the prey is in short supply the numbers and biomass of predators will fall.

Predators are usually bigger and more powerful than their prey (although a stoat preys on a rabbit, which may be four or five times its size), and their population is smaller – if the predator became more widespread than the prey, the population of the predator would inevitably fall. This is because there is not enough energy available in the bodies of the prey to sustain more predators. The drop in numbers of organisms along many food chains can be seen using a pyramid of numbers. Other relationships between species include parasitism, in which the host is not necessarily killed by the parasite, and symbiosis, in which both species benefit from the relationship.


Habitat, population and community

Predation and competition

Predators, Prey, and Populations


lion and lioness

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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