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The Inactivity of Animals: Influence of Stochasticity and Prey Size

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As a consequence of prey capture being partly dependent upon chance, each individual may usually spend much of the day inactive even if the population is limited by its food supply. This applies particularly to species that eat large prey and thus experience considerable day-to-day variation in intake which restricts them to relatively rich habitats. Food will be found easily on most days and little time need be spent hunting although, occasionally, they will be unlucky and, despite searching all day, risk starvation. Predators of small prey can survive in environments that provide barely sufficient food as they experience little variation in intake: but they need to search all day to sustain themselves.

Affiliations: 1: Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, Oxford University, England; 2: Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Bangor Research Station, Bangor, Wales

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