What is Preferred Prey?

  1. The preferred prey is the species that is hunted and attacked preferentially by the predator. Mortality data alone cannot indicate a predator’s preferred prey as predatory attacks can be unsuccessful and predation can also be sub-lethal.
  2. It is necessary to distinguish clearly between starfish species that attract Charonia and which it prefers to consume and alternately starfish species that are sufficiently slow moving that Charonia capture and consume them regularly. It is suggested that this distinction is relevant to the mechanism that regulates Acanthaster and Coscinasterias numbers when their populations are at low density.
  3. The ability of Charonia to regulate low population numbers of Acanthaster is dependent on its ability to locate and attack aggregations of Acanthaster even when this starfish is less common than other genera such as Linckia and Nardoa. This would also be true with respect to predation of Coscinasterias and Patiriella.
  4. The effectiveness of predation or dispersal as a means of starfish population regulation will be less dependent on the feeding rate and more dependent on the prey preference of Charonia when the starfish are at low population density.