Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Predators hunt for a balanced diet

Date:
January 11, 2012
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Predators select their prey in order to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and give themselves the best chance of producing healthy offspring. A new study shows for the first time that predatory animals choose their food on the basis of its nutritional value, rather than just overall calorie content.

This is a ground beetle, Anchomenus dorsalis.
Credit: Peter Krogh.

Predators select their prey in order to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and give themselves the best chance of producing healthy offspring.

A University of Exeter and Oxford-led study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows for the first time that predatory animals choose their food on the basis of its nutritional value, rather than just overall calorie content.

An international team of scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Oxford in the UK, University of Sydney (Australia), Aarhus University (Denmark) and Massey University (New Zealand) based their research on the ground beetle, Anchomenus dorsalis, a well-known garden insect that feasts on slugs, aphids, moths, beetle larvae and ants.

The team collected female beetles from the wild and split them into two groups in the laboratory. Half of the beetles were offered a choice of foods, some that were high in protein and some that were high in fat. The other half were not given a choice of what to eat: some were only given food that was higher in protein and others just had higher-fat foods, none of which provided the right nutritional balance. The beetles that were provided with a range of foods selected the balance of protein and fat that was optimal for producing healthy eggs. These beetles produced more eggs than the beetles that did not have the right nutritional balance.

Previous research on insects has shown that herbivores such as butterfly larvae and grasshoppers and omnivores like fruit flies and crickets select food that will give them a balanced diet. However, until now scientists have assumed that predators can only focus on obtaining sufficient calories in their diets. This is the first research to show that predators also select food on the basis of its nutritional value. Although this study focuses on one insect species, the researchers believe that this is likely to be true for predators across the animal kingdom.

Lead researcher Dr Kim Jensen of Biosciences at the University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus) said: "At a time of year when many of us are focused on healthy eating, it is interesting to see that predators are also selective about what they eat. Biologists have previously assumed that predators cannot afford to be fussy and that they are simply focused on getting the right quantity of food, rather than quality. We show for the first time that they do actually select the foods that will give them the right balance of nutrients.

"Our findings could help further our understanding of food webs and how communities of animals interact in the wild."

This study was funded by Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from the Royal Society and Natural Environment Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Predators hunt for a balanced diet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110192942.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2012, January 11). Predators hunt for a balanced diet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110192942.htm
University of Exeter. "Predators hunt for a balanced diet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110192942.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins