Loss of predators leads to alien landscapes
No sympathy for carnivores? Think again. Sitting at the top of the food chain, large predators have a special role in the animal kingdom. But just how important lions, wolfs or lynx really are is revealed in a new Nature study published today. The global decline in the number of these and other big carnivores means the animals they typically prey on – mostly plant eaters – multiply unchecked. With potentially dire consequences for many ecosystems around the world. Plant eaters that would otherwise end their lives between sharp teeth are free to gobble away the vegetation, dramatically changing the face of the landscapes they inhabit. The researchers from Oregon State University base their findings on observations in the US’ Yellowstone National Park and in Finland, where the decline of large predators has led to so much loss of plants and trees that soil erosion occurs, putting at risk harvests and ultimately livelihoods, too.
DateJanuary 10, 2014