Navigation Links
American carnivores evolved to avoid each other, new study suggests
Date:3/10/2009

How do the many carnivorous animals of the Americas avoid competing for the same lunch, or becoming each other's meal?

A possible answer comes from a new study by a pair of researchers at the University of California, Davis. Their large-scale analysis shows that it's not just chance that's at play, but avoidance strategies themselves that have been a driving force in the evolution of many carnivores, influencing such factors as whether species are active daytime or nighttime, whether they inhabit forests or grasslands, or live in trees or on the ground.

The Americas are home to more than 80 species of terrestrial carnivores, including cats, dogs, bears, weasels, skunks and raccoons. Commonly, 20 or more species can occupy the same region.

"For the most part, these overlapping species all share the same prey base -- other animals -- which includes each other," said Jennifer Hunter, who conducted the study for her Ph.D. dissertation in ecology.

Hunter and co-author Tim Caro, professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology, first plotted the known ranges of all of the American carnivores on one big digital map. Assuming that wherever ranges overlapped, competition and predation between those species was possible, they then compared those animals' behavioral characteristics, body sizes and coloration. By analyzing this huge matrix of information, they were able to tease out broad patterns of strategies employed by each family.

For example, their map showed that the bear and dog families shared ranges with the greatest number of potential competitors. Most species in these families are omnivores, which helps reduce competition for a meat diet.

Raccoon family members, although small, run the lowest risk of becoming prey, because most live out of harm's way in trees.

One of their most surprising findings, Hunter said, was that the most petite carnivores, skunks, along with some weasels, lack an avoidance strategy. "When you look at all these overlays of ecology, these guys share all the same space at the same time with other carnivores."

How do these animals manage to survive? All skunks and a number of weasel species in this exposed group have facial or body coloring with an abrupt demarcation between white and dark. For skunks, this contrasting coloration almost surely warns predators of their noxious spray, Hunter explained, while with some weasel family members -- the notoriously aggressive badgers and wolverines, for example -- it may warn of ferocity.

The work provides a body of evidence for why these behaviors have evolved that could not have been obtained in the field, Hunter said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Liese Greensfelder
lgreensfelder@ucdavis.edu
530-752-6101
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. News from the March 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association
2. Many middle-aged and older Americans not getting adequate nutrition
3. American Institute of Physics announces awards for best science writing
4. Honest crabs, power to the hungry, nice mice and clever meerkats: News from the American Naturalist
5. Carnegies Doug Koshland elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
6. African-Americans aware and accepting, but often do not receive, the HPV vaccine
7. Statement by the Egg Nutrition Center and American Egg Board on Diabetes Care study on egg consumption
8. News from the February 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association
9. American Chemical Societys Weekly PressPac -- Jan. 28, 2009
10. Carnegies Joe Berry elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
11. American Association for Cancer Research hosts Science of Cancer Health Disparities conference
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
American carnivores evolved to avoid each other, new study suggests
(Date:3/9/2016)... , March 9, 2016  Crossmatch ® , ... enrollment solutions, today announced the addition of smart ... Altus multi-factor authentication platform. New contextual and ... to step-up security where it,s needed most — ... Washington, DC . --> ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... SOTO, Kansas , March 3, 2016 ... Oncimmune,s Early CDT®-Lung, a blood test to aid ... cancer Early CDT®-Lung test to its clients ... Early CDT®-Lung test to its clients which include ... a leader in early cancer detection, today announced a ...
(Date:3/1/2016)... FRANCISCO , March 1, 2016  (RSAC Booth ... year, but a whopping $118 billion is lost to ... to overzealous and inaccurate fraud detection. At the RSA ... in the way companies handle authentication by devaluing the ... and behavioral analytics. --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... , ... April 29, 2016 , ... Summit for Stem ... support the development of a patient-specific stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s ... of Dr. Jeanne Loring at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CA. ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016 Q BioMed Inc. ... CEO  was featured in an article he wrote ... Fear To Tread: http://www.lifescienceleader.com/doc/accelerators-enter-when-vcs-fear-to-tread-0001 ... is an essential business journal for life science ... to Big Pharmas. Their content is designed to ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Morris Midwest ... house for regional manufacturers at its Maple Grove, Minnesota technical center, May 11-12. ... Chiron and Trumpf. Almost 20 leading suppliers of tooling, accessories, software and ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... Most consumers engage ... fingerprint recognition for secure access, voice recognition for hands-free communication, and facial recognition ... interacting with biometrics technology today. But if they asked Joey Pritikin, Vice ...
Breaking Biology Technology: