Navigation Links
Prey not hard-wired to fear predators

Are Asian elk hard-wired to fear the Siberian tigers who stalk them" When wolves disappear from the forest, are moose still afraid of them?

No, according to a study by Wildlife Conservation Society scientist Dr. Joel Berger, who says that several large prey species, including moose, caribou and elk, only fear predators they regularly encounter. If you take away wolves, you take away fear. That is a critical piece of knowledge as biologists and public agencies increase efforts to re-introduce large carnivores to places where they have been exterminated. Berger’s study is published in the latest issue of the journal Conservation Biology.

The goal of re-introduction isn’t simply to save a species; it is to restore the natural functions of wild places. When the predator-prey relationship comes back into balance, impacts ripple through the system. For example, when wolves returned to the Yellowstone region, they caused a cascade of events including a change in elk distribution, more wariness in moose, and a change in coyote densities. By contrast , where wolves and grizzly bears were lost, migratory birds including warblers and hummingbirds were less abundant because moose over-browsed vegetation used by these migrants. “It is not just changes in climate or disease may alter our big remote wild landscapes, but so do the actions of conservationists and public agencies by restoring ecosystems to bring native carnivores back to where they once thrived.” said Dr. Berger.

Berger’s study, which looked at 19 areas including the Russian Far East, Greenland, Canada, and the U.S., demonstrated that caribou, elk, and moose are all affected by both the loss and return of their predators in ways that are important for conservation and ecosystem integrity.

These findings come at a time when, after more than $23 million was spent to re-establish wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, the animals are to be down-listed from federal prot ection. The states of Wyoming and Idaho have already proposed plans that would allow for as much as 85 percent of these once-protected wolves to be killed. So even as the goal of re-instilling fear of predators in prey species has been successful, the question remains whether enough wolves will be left to maintain the larger goals of natural function and balance, according to Dr. Berger.

Notes on the Study

The study compared the behaviors of four species of prey animals in three different prey situations:

  • Locations were native predators still exist. (Eastern Siberia, Boreal Canada and Alaska)

  • Locations where the top predators no longer exist. (the polar islands of Greenland and Svalbard, Norway)

  • Locations where native predators have been re-established after once being extinguished. (Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks )

To test reactions of animals living without their traditional predators, Berger played recordings of wolves and tigers and chronicled their reactions. As expected, in the absence of predators, the elk, moose, bison and caribou did not show the kind of vigilance, clustering behavior and flight observed in the same species living with wolves, bears or tigers. For example, elk in the mountains of Siberia—who subsist alongside tigers, wolves and bears-- responded five times faster to the recordings than did elk in Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) where major predators have been absent for some 90 years.

Source:Wildlife Conservation Society

Related biology news :

1. How taste response is hard-wired into the brain
2. Animal brains hard-wired to recognize predators foot movements, Queens study suggests
3. Super predators and mass extinctions
4. Creeping crinoids! Sea lilies crawl to escape predators, new video shows
5. Sea slug mixes chemical defense before firing at predators
6. Time of day tempers tadpoles response to predators
7. Pressured by predators, lizards see rapid shift in natural selection
8. Wheat can fatally starve insect predators
9. Marine phytoplankton changes form to protect itself from different predators

Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/20/2016)... , June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, ... technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and ... prisons involved, it has secured the final acceptance ... facilities for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, ... facilities to be installed by October, 2016. MAS ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce ... for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and to ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... June 3, 2016 ... Nepal hat ein ... hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und ... der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche ... im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today ... Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am ... and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated to identifying, protecting ... has closed its Series A funding round, according to ... "We have received a commitment from Forentis Fund that ... meet our current goals," stated Matthew Nunez . ... complete validation on the current projects in our pipeline, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, ... Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 ... presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... of the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to ... health. The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created ... a key obstacle for many early stage organizations - ... of the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" ...
Breaking Biology Technology: