U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Carrion Ecology, Evolution, and Their Applications, EDITED BY M. Eric Benbow, Jeffery K. Tomberlin, and Aaron M. Tarone, CRC Press


U.S. Government Work


Scavenging, or the consumption of dead animal matter, has been documented for a wide array of vertebrate taxa by naturalists and researchers for centuries. Yet, until recently, the importance of scavenging-derived nutrients to many vertebrate species has been largely unknown (DeVault et a1. 2003; Beasley et al. 2012b; Barton et al. 2013). As a result, the role vertebrate scavenging plays in food-web dynamics relative to that of microbes and invertebrates has been greatly underestimated (Wilson and Wolkovich 2011) and has thus become an important area of research. Indeed, in some ecosystems, vertebrates have been documented to assimilate as much as 90% of the available carrion (Houston 1986; DeVault et al. 2011). Such substantive acquisition of carrion resources by vertebrates challenges the traditional paraIlIMI1l of microbial and invertebrate dominance of nutrient recycling in food-web theory and suggests that Intensive interkingdom competition exists for access to carrion nutrients.

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