The Role of Predation in Shaping Crocodilian Natural History

Ruchira Somaweera, Matthew Brien, R Shine

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Although adult crocodilians have few predators (mostly humans and other crocodilians), hatchlings and eggs are killed and consumed by a diverse array of invertebrates, fishes, anurans, reptiles, birds, and mammals. We review published literature to evaluate the incidence of predation in crocodilian populations, and the implications of that mortality for crocodilian life-history evolution. Presumably because predation is size-dependent, small-bodied crocodilian taxa appear to be more vulnerable to predation (across a range of life stages) than are larger-bodied species. Several features of crocodilian biology likely reflect adaptations to reducing vulnerability to predation. For example, the threat of predation may have influenced the evolution of traits such as nest-site selection, maternal care of eggs and hatchlings, crèche behavior in hatchlings, and cryptic coloration and patterning. Even for such large and superficially invulnerable taxa such as crocodilians, the avoidance of predation appears to have been a significant selective force on behavior, morphology, and ecology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-51
    Number of pages29
    JournalHerpetological Monographs
    Volume27
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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    Crocodylia
    natural history
    predation
    history
    egg
    maternal care
    nest site
    site selection
    literature review
    angle of incidence
    reptile
    nesting sites
    reptiles
    vulnerability
    life history
    mammal
    invertebrate
    invertebrates
    predator
    mammals

    Cite this

    Somaweera, Ruchira ; Brien, Matthew ; Shine, R. / The Role of Predation in Shaping Crocodilian Natural History. In: Herpetological Monographs. 2013 ; Vol. 27, No. 1. pp. 23-51.
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    abstract = "Although adult crocodilians have few predators (mostly humans and other crocodilians), hatchlings and eggs are killed and consumed by a diverse array of invertebrates, fishes, anurans, reptiles, birds, and mammals. We review published literature to evaluate the incidence of predation in crocodilian populations, and the implications of that mortality for crocodilian life-history evolution. Presumably because predation is size-dependent, small-bodied crocodilian taxa appear to be more vulnerable to predation (across a range of life stages) than are larger-bodied species. Several features of crocodilian biology likely reflect adaptations to reducing vulnerability to predation. For example, the threat of predation may have influenced the evolution of traits such as nest-site selection, maternal care of eggs and hatchlings, cr{\`e}che behavior in hatchlings, and cryptic coloration and patterning. Even for such large and superficially invulnerable taxa such as crocodilians, the avoidance of predation appears to have been a significant selective force on behavior, morphology, and ecology.",
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    The Role of Predation in Shaping Crocodilian Natural History. / Somaweera, Ruchira; Brien, Matthew; Shine, R.

    In: Herpetological Monographs, Vol. 27, No. 1, 12.2013, p. 23-51.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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