Nov, 2020 - By WMR
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found that the carnivores living near human habitat consumes more than half of their diets from the food humans rely on.
This is a major disruption of lifestyle which may put some carnivore dominated ecosystems of North America at risk. Ecologists studied the diets of seven predator species across the Great Lakes region in the US by gathering fur and bone samples for chemical analysis. The samples were collected from areas national parks to metropolitan regions like New York and Albany. The results were shocking as they found that the closer the carnivores lived to farms and cities the more human food they consumed.
Due to evolution this carnivorous species has found it difficult to compete for different resources and therefore rely on common food sources such as human food. Lead authors, Professor Jon Pauli and Phil Manlick of the University of Wisconsin have published their findings in the proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Manlick said that general species such as foxes, martens, coyotes and fishers take more than 50% of their diets from human food which was an unexpected number for the research team. The study found that the competition between carnivore species for food is increasing and therefore, they are relying more on human food. Their vulnerability to food shortage can also make them attack humans of nearby towns and cities for food leading to potentially harmful ecological consequences. The researchers also studied diets of about 700 carnivores and collected samples from different areas.
Professor Pauli concluded that when a landscape is changed so dramatically that hundreds of thousands of species are affected along with their most important attribute, food. The consequences of this food vulnerability are unknown for the overall community but can drastically damage the ecosystem. They are also trying to understand how to conserve these novel ecosystems for both animals and humans.