Predators Select For Nutrients

In the abstract to “Do wild carnivores forage for prey or for nutrients? Evidence for nutrient-specific foraging in vertebrate predators” (Bioessays, 2015 Jun;37(6):701-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400171.), Kevin D Kohl, Sean C P Coogan, and David Raubenheimer write:

A widespread perception is that carnivores are limited by the amount of prey that can be captured rather than their nutritional quality, and thus have no need to regulate macronutrient balance. Contrary to this view, recent laboratory studies show macronutrient-specific food selection by both invertebrate and vertebrate predators, and in some cases also associated performance benefits. The question thus arises of whether wild predators might likewise feed selectively according to the macronutrient content of prey. Here we review laboratory studies demonstrating the regulation of macronutrient intake by invertebrate and vertebrate predators, and address the question of whether this is likely to also occur in the wild. We conclude that it is highly likely that wild predators select prey or selectively feed on body parts according to their macronutrient composition, a possibility that could have significant implications for ecological and foraging theory, as well as applied wildlife conservation and management.

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