Biomechanics of predator–prey arms race in lion, zebra, cheetah and impala

  title={Biomechanics of predator–prey arms race in lion, zebra, cheetah and impala},
  author={Alan M. Wilson and Tatjana Y. Hubel and Simon Wilshin and John Lowe and Maja Lorenc and Oliver P. Dewhirst and Hattie L. A. Bartlam‐Brooks and Rebecca A Diack and Emily Bennitt and Krystyna A. Golabek and Roger C. Woledge and J. Weldon Mcnutt and Nancy A. Curtin and Timothy G. West},
The fastest and most manoeuvrable terrestrial animals are found in savannah habitats, where predators chase and capture running prey. Hunt outcome and success rate are critical to survival, so both predator and prey should evolve to be faster and/or more manoeuvrable. Here we compare locomotor characteristics in two pursuit predator–prey pairs, lion–zebra and cheetah–impala, in their natural savannah habitat in Botswana. We show that although cheetahs and impalas were universally more athletic… 

Modelling escape success in terrestrial predator-prey interactions.

A theoretical model in which the likelihood of escape is determined by the prey animal's tactics and its acceleration, top speed, agility and deceleration relative to the performance capabilities of a predator is developed.

Determinants of predation success: How to survive an attack from a rattlesnake

Detailed field studies indicate that prey are usually successful in evading attacks, with rates of predator success in many systems as low as 1%–5%.

Modeling escape success in terrestrial predator–prey interactions

First and last authors contributed equally to this work. From the symposium “Applied Functional Biology: Linking Ecological Morphology to Conservation and Management” presented at the annual meeting

Habitat features and performance interact to determine the outcomes of terrestrial predator-prey pursuits.

This model provides a mechanistic explanation for the differential effects of habitat on survival for different predator-prey pairs and could have applications toward management programs for species threatened by habitat loss and predation.

Species‐specific strategies increase unpredictability of escape flight in eared moths

This work shows species‐specific and size‐independent differences in both overall flight strength and change of flight strength over time, supporting the escape‐tactic diversity hypothesis for eared moths and showing strong interindividual differences in evasive flight within some species.

Pursuit and evasion strategies in the predator-prey interactions of fishes.

This work demonstrates that fish predators track prey with variations on a deviated-pursuit strategy that is guided by visual cues, and considers the stochastic nature of interactions by incorporating measured probability distributions to accurately predict measurements of survivorship.

Quantity over quality? Prey-field characteristics influence the foraging decisions of little penguins (Eudyptula minor)

Quantifying prey characteristics is important for understanding the foraging behaviour of predators, which ultimately influence the structure and function of entire ecosystems. However, information

Body proportions for the facilitation of walking, running and flying: the case of partridges

It is suggested that proportions of the body, extremities and flight feathers drive mobility which is intimately associated with ecology, biological efficiency, health and physical optimization, and may be affected by body structure intermediated by mobility and health.

Large Felid Predators and “Man-Eaters”: Can We Successfully Balance Conservation of Endangered Apex Predators with the Safety and Needs of Rapidly Expanding Human Populations?

The large felid carnivores are among the most endangered, and the most challenging, species to conserve on this increasingly human-dominated planet. In modern times, large felid carnivores were

Dragonflies use underdamped pursuit to chase conspecifics

It is proposed that overshooting is an adaptive feature of conspecific chases that can be achieved with only slight modification of the strategy used for intercepting prey and may help avoid potentially damaging collisions while exhibiting the pursuing animal's flight performance and competitive ability.



Capture success and efficiency of dragonflies pursuing different types of prey.

In comparing the performance of different dragonfly species that co-occur in the same habitat, significant differences are found that are not explained by body size, suggesting that some dragonflies may be specialized for pursuing particular types of prey.


  • J. Bro-Jørgensen
  • Environmental Science
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 2013
It is shown that sprint speed is strongly predicted by the vulnerability of prey to their main predators; however, the direction of the link depends on the hunting style of the predator, and that predator hunting style influences the intensity and consistency with which selection on speed is coupled between particular species.

Cheetahs, Acinonyx jubatus, balance turn capacity with pace when chasing prey

Rather than a simple maximum speed chase, cheetahs first accelerate to decrease the distance to their prey, before reducing speed 5–8 s from the end of the hunt, so as to facilitate rapid turns to match prey escape tactics, varying the precise strategy according to prey species.

Outrun or Outmaneuver: Predator-Prey Interactions as a Model System for Integrating Biomechanical Studies in a Broader Ecological and Evolutionary Context.

This article presents studies of some predator-prey interactions sharing common predation strategies that reveal general principles governing the behaviors of predator and prey, even in distantly related taxa.

Energy cost and return for hunting in African wild dogs and cheetahs

An energy balance model is used to show that the energy return from group hunting and feeding substantially outweighs the cost of multiple short chases, which indicates that African wild dogs are more energetically robust than previously believed.

Locomotion dynamics of hunting in wild cheetahs

A new tracking collar is described and used, containing a combination of Global Positioning System (GPS) and inertial measurement units, to capture the locomotor dynamics and outcome of 367 predominantly hunting runs of five wild cheetahs in Botswana, providing the first detailed locomotor information on the hunting dynamics of a large cursorial predator in its natural habitat.

Additive opportunistic capture explains group hunting benefits in African wild dogs

Using high-resolution GPS and inertial technology to record fine-scale movement of all members of a single pack of six adult African wild dogs in northern Botswana, dogs used multiple short-distance hunting attempts with a low individual kill rate, but high group feeding rate due to the sharing of prey.

Risk avoidance in sympatric large carnivores: reactive or predictive?

The results suggest that cheetah spatial distribution is a hierarchical process, first driven by resource acquisition and thereafter fine-tuned by predator avoidance; thus suggesting a reactive, rather than a predictive, response to risk.