Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


The Journal of Bird Watching and Bird Study Association of Slovenia - DOPPS Bird Life

4 Issues per year

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Monitoring of facultative avian scavengers on large mammal carcasses in Dinaric forest of Slovenia

Miha Krofel
Published Online: 2012-05-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10100-011-0003-3

Monitoring of facultative avian scavengers on large mammal carcasses in Dinaric forest of Slovenia

Facultative vertebrate scavengers have an important role in forest ecosystems, however, not much is known as to their use of carrion in temperate forests. Three carcasses of Red Deer Cervus elaphus and European Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus found dead or killed by Grey Wolf Canis lupus were monitored in March and April 2010 and 2011 on Menišija Plateau in northern Dinaric Mountains (central Slovenia) using photo-trapping and video surveillance. Carcasses were monitored for 26 days, during which 708 photos and 43 video recordings of scavengers were taken. In the 91% of all visits recorded, birds were the most frequent scavengers, with Common Buzzard Buteo buteo as the most frequent species present at 76% of all visits. On average, Buzzards returned to carcasses twice per day, with an average visit lasting 29 min. Common Buzzards used carcasses to a significantly higher degree on days with snow cover, which was due to the more frequent visits per day and not to longer visits. Recorded antagonistic interspecific interactions suggested that Common Buzzards were the dominant species in the observed avian scavenger guild, as they displaced Ravens Corvus corax and Goshawk Accipiter gentilis from the carcass. However, Ravens frequently mobbed Common Buzzards while scavenging. Once an Ural Owl Strix uralensis also visited prey remains of Grey Wolf, but feeding could not be confirmed. Observations suggested that carcasses of large mammals could be locally and temporarily an important food source for some facultative avian scavengers in Dinaric forests, especially in times when other food is scarce. Data from the two wolf kills also confirm the importance of predation by large carnivores in providing food for scavengers. Given the small amount of meat consumed, kleptoparasitism by solitary raptors did not bring significant losses to large carnivores, whereas gregarious avian scavengers like corvids can importantly affect the consumption process and consume large amount of biomass in a relatively short time.

Spremljanje priložnostnih ptičjih mrhovinarjev na truplih velikih sesalcev v dinarskem gozdu Slovenije

Keywords: scavenging; carrion consumption; feeding behaviour; kleptoparasitism; avian scavengers; forest; Dinaric Mountains

Keywords: mrhovina; mrhovinarstvo; prehranjevanje; kleptoparazitizem; ptičji mrhovinarji; gozd; Dinaridi

  • Blázquez, M., Sánchez-Zapata, J.A., Botella, F., Carrete, M. & Eguía, S. (2009): Spatio-temporal segregation of facultative avian scavengers at ungulate carcasses. - Acta Oecologica 35: 645-650.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bordjan, D. (2003): Kanja Buteo buteo. - Acrocephalus 24 (117): 75.Google Scholar

  • DeVault, T.L., Rhodes Jr., O.E. & Shivik, J.A. (2003): Scavenging by vertebrates: behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives on an important energy transfer pathway in terrestrial ecosystems. - Oikos 102: 225-234.Google Scholar

  • Díaz-Ruiz, F., Buenestado, F., Fernández-de-Simón, J. & Ferreras, P. (2010): First record of rabbit carrion consumption by Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) on the Iberian peninsula. - Journal of Raptor Research 44: 78-79.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Hebblewhite, M. & Smith, D.W. (2010): Wolf community ecology: ecosystem effects of recovering wolves in Banff and Yellowstone National Parks. pp. 69-120 In: Musiani, M., Boitani, L. & Paquet, P. C. (eds.): The world of wolves: new perspectives on ecology, behaviour and management. - The University of Calgary Press, Calgary.Google Scholar

  • Hucht-Ciorga, I. (1988): Studien zur Biologie des Luchses: Jagdverhalten, Beuteausnutzung, innerartliche Kommunikation und an den Spuren fassbare Körpermerkmale. - Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart.Google Scholar

  • Hunter, J.S., Durant, S.M. & Caro, T.M. (2006): Patterns of scavenger arrival at cheetah kills in Serengeti National Park Tanzania. - African Journal of Ecology 45: 275-281.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Jędrzejewska B. & Jędrzejewski W. (1998): Predation in vertebrate communities: The Biłowieża Primeval Forest as a case study. - Springer, Heidelberg.Google Scholar

  • Kaczensky, P., Hayes, R.D. & Promberger, C. (2005): Effect of raven Corvus corax scavenging on the kill rates of wolf Canis lupus packs. - Wildlife Biology 11: 101-108.Google Scholar

  • König, C., Weick, F. & Becking, J.H. (1999): Owls. A Guide to the Owls of the World. - Pica Press, Sussex.Google Scholar

  • Kordiš, F. (1993): Dinarski jelovo bukovi gozdovi v Sloveniji. Strokovna in znanstvena dela 112. - Oddelek za gozdarstvo, Biotehniška fakulteta, Ljubljana.Google Scholar

  • Krofel, M. (2005): Kragulj Accipiter gentilis & kozača Strix uralensis. - Acrocephalus 26 (124): 49.Google Scholar

  • Krofel, M. (2006): Plenjenje in prehranjevanje evrazijskega risa (Lynx lynx) na območju Dinarskega krasa v Sloveniji. Diplomska naloga. - Univerza v Ljubljani, Biotehniška fakulteta, Oddelek za biologijo, Ljubljana.Google Scholar

  • Krofel, M. (2010): Opažanja velikih jat krokarjev Corvus corax na Pokojiški planoti (osrednja Slovenija). - Acrocephalus 32 (145/146): 147-149.Google Scholar

  • Krofel, M. & Kos, I. (2010): Modelling potential effects of brown bear kleptoparasitism on the predation rate of Eurasian lynx. - Acta Biologica Slovenica 53 (1): 47-54.Google Scholar

  • Mattisson, J. (2011): Interactions between Eurasian lynx and wolverines in the reindeer husbandry area. PhD thesis. - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.Google Scholar

  • Palomares, F., & Caro T.M. (1999): Interspecific killing among mammalian carnivores. - American Naturalist 153: 492-508.Google Scholar

  • Peterson, R.O. & Ciucci, P. (2003): The wolf as a carnivore. pp. 104-130 In: Mech, L. D. & Boitani, L. (eds.): Wolves; Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. - The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar

  • Ratcliffe, D. (1997): The Raven. - T & A D Poyser, London.Google Scholar

  • Ruxton, G.D. & Houston, D.C. (2004): Obligate vertebrate scavengers must be large soaring fliers. - Journal of Theoretical Biology 228: 431-436.Google Scholar

  • Saurola P. (1995): [Finnish Owls.] - Book Group Ltd., Helsinki. (in Finnish)Google Scholar

  • Selva, N. (2004): Life after death - scavenging on ungulate carcasses. pp. 59-68 In: Jedrzejewska, B. & Wojcik J. M. (eds.): Essays on Mammals of Bialowieza Forest. - Polish Academy of Sciences, Bialowieza.Google Scholar

  • Selva, N., Jędrzejewska, B., Jędrzejewski, W. & Wajrak, A. (2005): Factors affecting carcass use by a guild of scavengers in European temperate woodland. - Canadian Journal of Zoology 83: 1590-1601.Google Scholar

  • Skrbinšek, T. & Krofel, M. (2008): Analiza kvalitete habitata, hrana in kompeticija. Projekt DinaRis. Zaključno poročilo. - University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana.Google Scholar

  • Sánchez-Zapata, J.A., Eguía, S., Blázquez, M., Moleón, M. & Botella, F. (2010): Unexpected role of ungulate carcasses in the diet of Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos in Mediterranean mountains. - Bird Study 57: 352-360.Google Scholar

  • Šere, D. (1998): Beloglavi jastreb Gyps fulvus. - Acrocephalus 19 (87/88): 67.Google Scholar

  • Tome, D., Krofel, M. & Mihelič, T. (2009): The diet of the raven Corvus corax in south-west Slovenia. - Annales, Series Historia Naturalis 19: 161-166.Google Scholar

  • Vidmar, J. (2003): Beloglavi jastreb Gyps fulvus. - Acrocephalus 28 (133): 80.Google Scholar

  • Vucetich, J.A., Peterson, R.O. & Waite, T.A. (2004): Raven scavenging favours group foraging in wolves. - Animal Behaviour 67: 1117-1126.Google Scholar

  • Wilmers, C.C., Crabtree, R.L., Smith, D.W., Murphy, K.M. & Getz, W.M. (2003): Trophic facilitation by introduced top predators: grey wolf subsidies to scavengers in Yellowstone National Park. - Journal of Animal Ecology 72: 909 - 916.Google Scholar

  • Wilcoxon, F. (1945): Individual comparisons by ranking methods. - Biometrics Bulletin 1 (6): 80-83.Google Scholar

  • Wilson, E.E. & Wolkovich, E.M. (2011): Scavenging: how carnivores and carrion structure communities. - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26: 129-135.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2012-05-30

Published in Print: 2011-01-01

Citation Information: Acrocephalus, Volume 32, Issue 148-149, Pages 45–51, ISSN (Print) 0351-2851, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10100-011-0003-3.

Export Citation

This content is open access.

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Miha Krofel, Ivan Kos, and Klemen Jerina
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2012, Volume 66, Number 9, Page 1297

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in