Predation is one of a family of common feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation which usually do not kill the host, and parasitoidism which always does, eventually. Predator and prey adapt to each other in an evolutionary arms race, coevolving under natural selection to develop antipredator adaptations in the prey and adaptations such as stealth and aggressive mimicry that improve hunting efficiency in the predator.
A perspective on the evolutionary options available to predators and parasites can be gained by considering four questions: the effect on the fitness of the prey or host; the number of prey or hosts they have per life stage; whether the prey or host is prevented from reproducing (by being killed, or by being castrated), reducing its evolutionary fitness to zero; and whether the effect depends on intensity.
From this analysis, the major evolutionary strategies of predation and micropredation emerge, alongside parasitism and parasitoidism; social predators such as lion and wolf are distinguished from solitary predators like the cheetah.
A conventional predator is one that kills and eats another living thing.
In social predation, a group of predators cooperates to kill creatures larger than those they could overpower singly.
Social predators such as lions, hyenas, and wolves collaborate to catch and kill large herbivores.
Predators including big cats, birds of prey, and ants share powerful jaws or claws which they use to seize and kill their prey.
In ecology, predators are heterotrophic, getting all their energy from other organisms.
Parasites, like predators, live by feeding on another organism, but differ in that they often do not kill their hosts. Parasitoids are insects living in or on their host and feeding directly upon it, eventually leading to its death, making their strategy comparable with predation.
They are, however, much like parasites in their close associations with their hosts.
Predators may hunt actively for prey in pursuit predation, or sit and wait for prey to approach within striking distance in ambush predation.
Grazing animals generally do not kill their prey, but like predators, they live by feeding on other organisms.