Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Salvatore Agosta

Second Advisor

Dr. Lesley Bulluck

Third Advisor

Dr. Derek Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Daniel McGarvey

Fifth Advisor

Dr. James Vonesh


Lethal interactions between carnivorans (interspecific killing) may influence their population dynamics, behavior, and other important aspects of their ecology. In this study, I expand upon previous research on the broad-scale patterns of interspecific killing in Carnivora (Palomares & Caro 1999, Donadio & Buskirk 2006) with a greatly expanded dataset (inclusion of scat and stomach data and more intensive sampling of the literature), and suggest avenues for future research. While like previous studies, I found a positive effect of relative body size between killer species and killed species on the likelihood of forming a killing interaction, I failed to find evidence that this effect had a body size ratio threshold above which interactions become less common, suggesting a greater role of non-competitive killing than previously believed. I also found evidence for a positive influence of range overlap and dietary overlap on species interactions, but found mixed effects of phylogeny. This study suggests that our previous understanding of the broad-scale dynamics interspecific killing in Carnivora was, due to limited sampling, incomplete in scope. Incidental killing, whereby killing interactions occur as a byproduct of opportunistic lethal encounters caused by the hyperpredatory behavior of carnivorans, has a number of interesting implications for our understanding of interspecies aggression, including research on intraguild predation and its effects.


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