Wednesday 27 March 2019

Debate on predator-prey relationships

Date:  March 7, 2019
Source:  University of Stirling
Experts have shed new light on the relationship between predators and their prey after studying how elk responded to the risk posed by grey wolves in an American national park.
Co-led by the University of Stirling, new research used global positioning system (GPS) tracking technology to monitor the behaviour of both species in Yellowstone National Park -- which spans Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho -- where wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990s.
Earlier studies have suggested that elk -- the main prey of grey wolves in Yellowstone -- modified their behaviour to avoid specific areas or times when the risk of being hunted was high. However, the latest research has found "little evidence" of elk responding to wolf predation risk.
Dr Jeremy Cusack, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Stirling, led the study, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
The project was a collaboration with the University of Oxford, Utah State University, and the National Park Service in the United States. The team collected movement data between 2012 and 2016 using GPS collars placed on individual female elk and at least one member of each wolf pack, in the northern section of Yellowstone. The collars recorded the location of the animals every hour, providing comprehensive data on how they used the landscape.

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