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:11/17/2016)... 2016 Global Market Watch: Primarily supported ... Population-Based Banks and Academics) market is to witness a value ... shows the highest Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.75% ... the analysis period 2014-2020. North America ... by Europe at 9.56% respectively. ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... Fla., Nov. 14, 2016  xG Technology, Inc. ("xG" ... providing critical wireless communications for use in challenging operating ... September 30, 2016. Management will hold a conference call ... 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (details below). Key ... a $16 million binding agreement to acquire Vislink Communication ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, ... call to industry to share solutions for the Biometric ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP ... are departing the United States , ... and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)... , Dec. 6, 2016  SRI International ... $150 million from the National Institutes of Health,s ... the Division of AIDS (NIAID-DAIDS) to support the ... non-vaccine pre-exposure (PreP) agents. Under the seven-year contract, ... product development services for candidate HIV-prevention products that ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... Dec. 5, 2016 Axovant Sciences Ltd. (NYSE: ... focused on the treatment of dementia, today announced that ... treatment of Alzheimer,s disease will be presented at the ... Friday, December 9, 2016 in San Diego ... of both simple and complex measures of activities of ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... , ... December 05, 2016 , ... ... to soon resume cervical and lumbar disc production, company President, Jake Lubinski will ... who are implanting the AxioMed disc in Cologne and Karlsruhe to discuss the ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... , Dec. 5, 2016 NxGen MDx announced today that it ... test in house, we,ve been able to improve customer service through shortened ... says Alan Mack , CEO of NxGen MDx. ... , , A decrease ... has led to more job opportunities at the Grand Rapid headquarters. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: