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Biol Lett. 2008 Jun 23;4(3):311-3. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0038.

The effect of social facilitation on foraging success in vultures: a modelling study.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.


The status of many Gyps vulture populations are of acute conservation concern as several show marked and rapid decline. Vultures rely heavily on cues from conspecifics to locate carcasses via local enhancement. A simulation model is developed to explore the roles vulture and carcass densities play in this system, where information transfer plays a key role in locating food. We find a sigmoid relationship describing the probability of vultures finding food as a function of vulture density in the habitat. This relationship suggests a threshold density below which the foraging efficiency of the vulture population will drop rapidly towards zero. Management strategies should closely study this foraging system in order to maintain effective foraging densities.

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