Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to UBC research published today in Science.
UBC zoologist Adam Ford and colleagues used GPS tracking and feeding experiments to measure how an African antelope’s (impala) fear of predators, as well as the growing patterns of thorny plants, combine to influence the landscape.
“Our observations indicate that carnivores — like leopards and wild dogs — shape where herbivores eat,” says Ford, lead author of the paper. “Plant defenses — such as thorns — shape what herbivores eat.”
“As human activities continue to reduce populations of predators, herbivores like impala become willing to feed in areas that used to be risky — consuming more preferred vegetation and, ironically, allowing less-preferred thorny plant species to take over,” says Ford.
Recent, unrelated, data published in Science indicate more than three quarters of the world’s 31 large carnivore species are in decline and that 17 species occupied less than half of their historical distributions.
“Plants have two pathways to success,” says Ford. “You either protect yourself from herbivores by growing large thorns, or thrive in areas that are risky to your predators — plant eaters.”
The study area, Mpala Research Center in Laikipia, Kenya, is used for traditional ranching. In the future, Ford will investigate whether the forage that impala don’t eat in dangerous areas could be used for livestock during drought years — a frequent occurrence that can threaten the livelihoods of many people in Laikipia.
“We’re only beginning to understand the linkages between carnivores, their prey, plants and people,” says Ford.
Mpala Research Center in Laikipia, Kenya, 100 km north of the equator in a savanna. The area is a mixture of trees and grasses — neither grassland nor forest.
What the researchers did
Ford and colleagues used GPS tracking of 20 adult female impala and two major predators — leopards (four animals) and wild dogs (five animals) — to determine whether the predators scare impala so much that impala will avoid areas where they are likely to be killed.
The researchers combined the tracking data with a high-resolution satellite image of tree cover and located carcasses to determine where impala are being killed.
The team performed feeding experiments to determine how well thorns protected trees from impala. They removed thorns from a thorny species, and added thorns to a less-thorny species, and compared how many leaves were eaten by impala from these branches.
They found that impala avoided eating trees with thorns, irrespective of which species of tree those thorns occurred on. Using a series of electrified fences, they then found when impala were physically excluded from an area there was a three-fold
Watch Part 1 now: http://bit.ly/Dog-Days-2 Southern China has always had a tradition of dining on dogs—people from other parts of the country even joke that Southerners will eat anything…
Video Rating: 4 / 5
Sojos Complete Grain Free Turkey Dog Food. Sojos Complete is a wholesome grain-free pre-mix that you simply combine with water to create your own fresh, homemade pet food. Made with USDA freeze-dried raw meat and all-natural ingredients. This food works great for dogs with sensitivities to grains, and also as a great fruit and vegetable supplement. When mixed with water, 1 lb. of Sojos Complete makes approximately 5 lbs. of fresh, raw dog food. Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, USDA turkey, whole egg, broccoli, celery, apples, flax meal, pecans, tricalcium phosphate, pumpkin, cranberries, basil, dried alfalfa, ginger root, dried kelp, zinc sulfate, vitamin E acetate and vitamin D3 Guaranteed Analysis: crude protein 22.0% min., crude fat 8.0% min., crude fiber 5.1% max., moisture 12.3% max. Calories per cup = 480.8 Kcals Sizing: 2 lb. 8 lbs. Shipping Note: Due to weight or size, this item may be subject to an additional shipping charge calculated during checkout.
List Price: $ 84.99
Price: $ 21.99
1. Kong Wobbler A lot of dog owners have reported positive results using a Kong Wobbler. The toy is designed to be filled with dog treats or kibble. The design makes it virtually impossible for your dog to get the treats out of the toy, which can help prevent separation anxiety. It takes a little […]
Relocating to a new house is a whole lot of work, especially when you are doing it all by yourself. This includes going through an adjustment period, where you will feel the need to adapt to the new environment and other factors. Just like humans, our furry friends also need to have some time to […]
Welcoming a pet into your home as a friend for a lifetime Is always a dreamy milestone to achieve. But if you are someone who starts to show allergic reactions as soon as you come in contact with the pet, then this dreamy situation can turn into a Nightmare. So, if you are facing this […]
Recent estimates indicate that approximately 90 million dogs – and close to 100 million cats – have a home in the United States. When it comes to their pets, animal lovers spare no expense in caring for their pet or showcasing their love for man’s best friends. But don’t let that last statement fool you […]