Thursday, 29 November 2018

Animal populations are shrinking due to their high-risk food-finding strategies

It hasn't been clear why certain animal populations are taking a hit, until now
Date:  November 15, 2018
Source:  Swansea University
A study using animal-attached technology to measure food consumption in four very different wild vertebrates has revealed that animals using a high-risk strategy to find rarer food are particularly susceptible to becoming extinct, as they fail to gather food for their young before they starve.
In the first study of its kind, a team of researchers led by Swansea University used thumbnail-sized electronic tags to record the movement of a number of individual condors, cheetahs, penguins and sheep in Argentina, South Africa and Northern Ireland over a six-year period.
Nicknamed the "Daily Diary," the tags record a mass of data -- everything from the animal's minute movements through space and time, to the temperature of its environment and light levels.
The results from the tags were used to measure:
The probability that each animal finds food items.
The size of the food items.
The effort used to find the food.
The effort used for all other activities such as rest, play etc.
Professor Rory Wilson of Swansea University, a world-leading expert on animal movement and lead author of the study, said: "We know that animal populations across the world are taking a hit, with the most charismatic animals like lions and cheetahs being among the worst affected, but up until now it hasn't been clear why.

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