BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Predators and prey
Symbiotic relationships are a special type of interaction between species. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, these relationships are. A secondary school revision resource for OCR GCSE Science about understanding our environment and competition between species. As you go through these examples of predator-prey relationships, you will get a better idea of the concept and also, its importance for the.
Mar 1, Strange are the ways of nature! When a predator exhausts the prey population in its habitat, the resultant food shortage automatically decelerates the predator population, thus giving the prey population a chance to revive. What will happen if lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and other predators of the African Savannah become extinct?7 Signs of Grooming by a Sexual Predator
As there will be no predators to prey on them, the population of wildebeests, gazelles, and other herbivores will increase and they will run a riot in the Savannah, thus destroying the vegetation cover.
And what if wildebeests and gazelles become extinct?
With no food to eat, carnivores will either die of starvation or end up killing each other. Though hypothetical, these scenarios cannot be ruled out.
In fact, the relationship between predator and prey is more complex than what this example shows.
Organisation of an ecosystem
What is a Predator-Prey Relationship? Nearly all species in a given ecosystem are interdependent, to an extent that the loss of one species can have adverse effects on others.
In a broad sense, the dependence can be classified into symbiotic relationships and predator-prey relationships. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the relationship between predator and prey has a crucial role to play when it comes to ecological balance.
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A tilt on either side can trigger a domino effect on the environment as a whole. If, for instance, food supply is altered as a result of lack of prey, it will reflect on the population of predatory species, as they will find it difficult to reproduce in times of food scarcity.
And like we said earlier, if the population of predators comes down, herbivores will run a riot in the ecosystem. It's a classic example of the survival of the fittest. In stark contrast to the cheetah-gazelle relationship is the relationship between African wild dogs and zebras. Wild dogs might be small, but they make up for it by resorting to pack behavior and their remarkable stamina.
The strategy is simple: As for zebras, they have the camouflage working in their favor, making it difficult for their predators to isolate and attack an individual.
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After analyzing the number of lynx and hare pelts brought in by hunters, Canadian biologist, Charles Gordon Hewitt came to a conclusion that the two species are highly dependent on each other, such that the population of the Canadian lynx rises and falls with a rise and fall in the snowshoe hare population. Further research revealed that it was the food shortage resulting from the decline in hare population that affected the reproduction rate of this lynx species.
While wildebeests and Cape buffaloes form a major chunk of their diet, African lions are also known to prey on warthogs, especially when they are easily available. From the researchers' point of view, the relationship between wolves and moose on the Isle Royale gives the best picture of predator-prey relationships, as moose are almost the only prey for wolves on this isolated island.
After studying their relationship for decades, researchers have realized that the food shortage resulting from wolves eating too many moose, keeps a check on the wolf population as well.
Predator and prey evolve together. The prey is part of the predator's environment, and the predator dies if it does not get food, so it evolves whatever is necessary in order to eat the prey: Likewise, the predator is part of the prey's environment, and the prey dies if it is eaten by the predator, so it evolves whatever is necessary to avoid being eaten: This lizard abovecamoflauges by blending with the lichen on rocks, while the tortoise belowhas a hard shell to deter would-be predators.
In this snowy environment, the polar bear is white to avoid being noticed as it approaches the seal, and the seal pup is white to avoid being noticed by the bear.
The fastest lions are able to catch food and eat, so they survive and reproduce, and gradually, faster lions make up more and more of the population.
Predators and prey
The fastest zebras are able to escape the lions, so they survive and reproduce, and gradually, faster zebras make up more and more of the population.
An important thing to realize is that as both organisms become faster to adapt to their environments, their relationship remains the same: This is true in all predator-prey relationships.
Another example of predator-prey evolution is that of the Galapagos tortoise.