Just out | A behavioural framework for the evolution of feeding in predatory aquatic mammals @ PRS B

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A behavioural framework for the evolution of feeding in predatory aquatic mammals


David P. Hocking, Felix G. Marx, Travis Park, Erich M. G. Fitzgerald, Alistair R. Evans


Extant aquatic mammals are a key component of aquatic ecosystems. Their morphology, ecological role and behaviour are, to a large extent, shaped by their feeding ecology. Nevertheless, the nature of this crucial aspect of their biology is often oversimplified and, consequently, misinterpreted. Here, we introduce a new framework that categorizes the feeding cycle of predatory aquatic mammals into four distinct functional stages (prey capture, manipulation and processing, water removal and swallowing), and details the feeding behaviours that can be employed at each stage. Based on this comprehensive scheme, we propose that the feeding strategies of living aquatic mammals form an evolutionary sequence that recalls the land-to-water transition of their ancestors. Our new conception helps to explain and predict the origin of particular feeding styles, such as baleen-assisted filter feeding in whales and raptorial ‘pierce’ feeding in pinnipeds, and informs the structure of present and past ecosystems.



Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)
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