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:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, ... the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... competition will focus on developing health and wellness apps ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon ... The world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... 2017 The report "Video Surveillance ... Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service ... Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was ... projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at ... base year considered for the study is 2016 and ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market by Technology (Touch-based and Touchless), Product ... by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD 18.98 billion by ... Continue Reading ... ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160303/792302) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A new ... rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. ... to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh and frozen ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights that give it exclusive global ... technology developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Additionally, ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Oct. 10, 2017 International research firm Parks Associates ... speak at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... the residential home security market and how smart safety and security products ... Parks Associates: Smart ... "The residential security market ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is ... honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. ... world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February ...
Breaking Biology Technology: