Apex predator

The lion is one of Africa's apex land predators.[1]
The saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile[2] and the dominant predator throughout its range.[3]
The great white shark (bottom) was originally considered the apex predator of the ocean; however, the killer whale (top) has proven to be a predator of the shark.

An apex predator, also known as an alpha predator or top predator, is a predator at the top of a food chain, without natural predators.[a][5][6]

Apex predators are usually defined in terms of trophic dynamics, meaning that they occupy the highest trophic levels. Food chains are often far shorter on land, usually limited to being secondary consumers – for example, wolves prey mostly upon large herbivores (primary consumers), which eat plants (primary producers). The apex predator concept is applied in wildlife management, conservation and ecotourism.

Apex predators have a long evolutionary history, dating at least to the Cambrian period when animals such as Anomalocaris dominated the seas.

Humans have for many centuries interacted with apex predators including the wolf, birds of prey and cormorants to hunt game animals, birds, and fish respectively. More recently, humans have started interacting with apex predators in new ways. These include interactions via ecotourism, such as with the tiger shark, and through rewilding efforts, such as the proposed reintroduction of the lynx.

  1. ^ Ordiz, Andrés; Bischof, Richard; Swenson, Jon E. (2013). "Saving large carnivores, but losing the apex predator?". Biological Conservation. 168: 128–133. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2013.09.024.
  2. ^ "Saltwater Crocodile." Archived 2013-09-06 at the Wayback Machine National Geographic. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  3. ^ Whiting, Frances. "Terri fights to halt croc eggs harvest." Archived 2010-10-28 at the Wayback Machine Australia Zoo. 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  4. ^ Sukhdeo, Michael V. K. (2012). "Where are the parasites in food webs?". Parasites & Vectors. 5 (1): 239. doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-239. PMC 3523981. PMID 23092160.
  5. ^ "predator". Online Etymological Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  6. ^ "apex predator". PBS. Archived from the original on 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2010-01-25.


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