Scavengers are just the animals that tend to consume other dead animals and organisms that have actually died from other causes than predation. When it comes to the actual definition of scavengers, it can be said that it refers to certain carnivores that feed on carrion. However, there are certain herbivorous animals that tend to exhibit this behavior as well. In this article, students are going to learn important facts about scavenger animals.
Who are Scavengers?
Scavengers are also known as carrion-feeders are basically the animals that tend to wholly or partially feed on the bodies of other animals that are dead. These scavengers tend to live on the decomposing matter of animals. One of the main examples of these scavengers is the carrion beetles that tend to feed on the dead mass of other animals. One of the main things to keep in mind about these animals is that they tend to play a very important role when it comes to preserving the ecosystem. Consumption of dead animals, as well as plant materials, can actually be a good thing for the completion of the food cycle.
Apart from that, these animals also tend to help in overcoming the fluctuations that happen regarding the food resources that are found in the ecosystem. The rate and process of scavenging are also affected by certain abiotic and biotic factors such as habitat, seasons, carcass sizes, as well as temperature.
Types of Scavengers
There are invertebrate scavengers that tend to include blowflies and burying beetles. These are the obligate scavengers. Apart from that, the fly larvae are also one of the examples. One of the rare forms of scavenging is obligate scavenging. This can be attributed to the fact that there aren’t many carriers that can be found without spending too much energy.
There are also facultative scavengers. These are the scavengers that tend to use other methods in order to get their food. They mostly use the method of predation. There are some examples of such scavengers such as jackals and hyenas. Some of the other examples include wolves, Leopards, and others. These organisms tend to use their ferocity and size to scare and intimidate the actual original hunters.
Apart from that, there are scavengers that tend to use dead plant materials as their food. These include the termites that tend to build their nests in certain grasslands. They tend to collect the dead plant materials very easily within their nests for later consumption.
With these important bits of information, students will easily be able to understand what animals are scavengers in the first place. Not to mention that this will also help them develop a deeper understanding of the topic.
Information about Scavengers: Ecological Function
Here is a very important piece of information that you need to know about scavengers. They tend to have a very important role to play when it comes to the preservation of the environment. They do this by removing the remains of decaying organisms in the best way. In a certain manner, it can be said that these organisms are responsible for the natural sanitation in the environment. The invertebrate decomposers and the microscopic organisms often decompose the prey into simple and organic matter which is then consumed by autotrophs nearby. Scavengers also help in the conservation of nutrients and energy that are obtained from the carrion within the higher tropic levels. Also, they assist in dispersing nutrients and energy.
The process of scavenging introduces a kind of unity amongst certain organisms that wouldn’t otherwise meet in the first place. Hence, there is a formation of complex and highly structured communities that engage in certain non-random interactions all over the environment without any hassle. Apart from that, scavenging communities tend to function in the process of redistributing the energy that they obtain from carcasses. Also, they help in reducing the diseases that often spread due to the presence of decomposition.
There are often times when these scavenger communities different when it comes to the carcass types and sizes. There are also some differences in the seasonal effects of the scavenging that tends to differentiate these animals in the first place. When it comes to the competition for the carrions, there is often the exclusion or inclusion of scavenger animals. The animals that are included in the community will get to have a share of the carrion. During the winter seasons, the decomposition of prey happens at a slower rate and hence the dead remains are preserved for a longer period of time. It is during this time when the competition for the carrion decreases a bit. It also causes an increase in the number of scavenger species.