Abstract

Prey material, which was collected from beneath the nests of two pairs of crowned hawk-eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) in the Ngogo study area, Kibale National Park, Uganda, was analyzed to identify the taphonomic features diagnostic of eagle predation. Material from a recent three-year collection interval was compared to an earlier three-year collection subsample to determine signal consistency over time. The bulk of the assemblage is comprised of cercopithecoid monkey remains, reflecting the taxonomic composition of the Ngogo area. Taxonomic composition of the assemblage remains highly consistent over the collection period. Bone survivability and fragmentation profiles, as well as damage patterns, also were investigated. Crowned hawk-eagles inflict much less damage to prey skeletons than do mammalian carnivores. Crania, scapulae, and hindlimb elements are most likely to survive predation by crowned hawk-eagles and to be concentrated at nest sites, but these elements (especially crania) show age-specific patterns of fragmentation and damage. Bone survivability profiles remain highly consistent throughout the duration of the collection period. Fragmentation and damage patterns—when tallied quantitatively—are more variable, but do not resemble those expected under predation by mammalian carnivores. Regurgitated elements in hair boluses also were examined; when compared with the rest of the assemblage, they show very different patterns. In summary, crowned hawk-eagle predation provides a taphonomic signature distinguishable from those of other predatory accumulating agents (e.g., non-human mammalian carnivores, owls, and humans), and this signal remains consistent over time, leading to the expectation that it may remain intact in fossil assemblages.

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