Psychology, Department of


Ecological Functions of Vertebrate Scavenging

James C. Beasley, University of Georgia
Zachary H. Olson, University of New England
Nuria Selva, Institute of Nature Conservation
Travis L. DeVault, USDA National Wildlife Research Center

Document Type Article

P. P. Olea et al. (eds.), Carrion Ecology and Management, Wildlife Research Monographs 2,



Introduction 126

Nutrient Recycling 127

Food Web Complexity 127

Scavenging and Food Web Stability 128

Scavenging Alters the Trophic Distribution of Carrion-Derived Nutrients 129

Transportation of Carrion Within and Between Ecosystems 130

Aquatic vs. Terrestrial Systems 132

Biodiversity Maintenance 133

Obligate and Facultative Scavengers 133

Marine and Terrestrial Examples of Biodiversity 135

Disease Control 139 Case Studies from Well-Studied Systems 140

Midwestern USA: Local Scavenger Guild Diversity and Its Effect on Carrion Removal 140

Białowieża Primeval Forest, Poland: Influence of Carrion Attributes on Scavenger Community Composition and Ecosystem Function 143

Yellowstone National Park: Effect of Large Predators on Scavenger Communities Through Provisioning of Carrion 146

Impact of Human Activities on Carcass Availability 148

Conclusions and Future Perspectives 149

References 150