Vertebrate carnivores and predation in the oriental (Indomalayan) region

Please be informed of this newly published journal article by RMBR research associate Professor Richard Corlett in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Professor Richard Corlett

Corlett, R. T. (2011) Vertebrate carnivores and predation in the oriental (Indomalayan) region. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 59(2): 325-360.

Its abstract as follows:

Current knowledge about terrestrial vertebrates that kill and eat other terrestrial vertebrates in the Oriental Region is summarised. Carnivory, by this definition, is dominated by snakes, diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey, and members of the order Carnivora, although a wide range of other Oriental vertebrates eat at least some vertebrate prey. The most species-rich lowland forest sites can support at least 45-65 carnivorous vertebrates, which appear to partition prey by type, size, period of activity and spatial distribution, although there are also many species with apparently generalist diets. Most prey types are taken by reptilian, avian and mammalian carnivores, but, except on islands, the largest prey are taken only by the largest mammalian carnivores. Most carnivores take some prey near their own body mass, with the exceptions being mostly pecialists on ectotherms or rodents, or omnivores that also consume invertebrates and/or plant foods. Oriental forests support more sympatric mammalian carnivores than anywhere else in the tropics, but fewer snakes and birds than the Neotropics, and apparently fewer sympatric vertebrate carnivores overall. The tiger is the world’s largest tropical forest carnivore and the biggest Asian pythons are the largest dryland snakes, but the Region lacks a really large raptor, except in the Philippines. Hunting is the biggest threat to most mammalian carnivores and is often driven by trade, while habitat loss and degradation are the major threats to birds. Introductions from outside the Region are not yet a problem, but translocations of Oriental species to islands may have already had significant impacts. Maintaining intact communities of large carnivores will require protected areas that are much larger and much better protected than most that exist at present. The major research needs are ecological studies of entire carnivore communities at the few sites where these are still intact and conservation-oriented studies of threatened species.

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