Laura Bru of the University of Washington, who wrote an article in 2020 in environmental science messages about these relationships. “But they could also balance the risks, for example by assessing the freshness of the impact of large carnivores, or simply by increasing vigilance.”
This trade-off for risk, in the words of Brugge”Enemies with benefits, is always different, depending on the ecosystems and species involved. Researchers constantly point out in their articles that the removal of one species of carnivores from an area, or the return of another species, is likely to have consequences that are difficult to predict.
“The presence of felines has effects on wolves. The presence of wolves has effects on felines. Wolves affect wolves and they affect wolves,” said researcher Kevin Monteith of the University of Wyoming. “The activities of these animals are all interconnected.”
I came across a phenomenon that saysfatal attractionWhen she was hunting for gray wolves in central Alaska. According to the current theory, apex predators balance the number of smaller predators. But when the number of American wild rabbits in her study area drastically decreased, and wolves began feeding on wolf prey, she wondered if Mediterranean animals might actually benefit from having apex predators.
This turns out to be the case – to an extent. I found that coyotes stayed near the wolves’ herd to get their money’s worth from their raids. But she also learned that there is a chance of wolves being killed by wolves.
“So it’s probably not a free meal after all,” she says.
Why all this interest in coyotes? This species is one of the most important North American inhabitants of mesocarnivores. Animals are found from Alaska to Panama and possibly even south. They are intelligent, easily reproduce, adaptable and often willing to take risks for food.
For the PNAS article, researchers put a GPS belt on coyotes, pumas, black bears, and lynxes. They also set up cameras in places with dead prey, to see which animals came there and to check their passages. The study found that black bears stay away from cougars and often do not go to places with dead prey. Lynx is not fond of lions or their prey.
Not far, on the juniper-covered mountain slopes of Wyoming, researchers have found that coyotes tend to stay away from areas where lions live. Data from GPS tapes showed that coyotes avoid areas of trees and cliffs where mountain lions often hunt unless they smell or otherwise perceive food, said study researcher Mitchell Brunet, author of a research paper recently published in Ecology and Evolution†
Researchers in Wyoming and Oregon found that despite the fact that cougar prey made up a large part of the coyotes’ diet, the latter animals were not disproportionately likely to die eating that prey. The researchers said coyotes might be more alert if they knew they were in a higher-risk area.
Tal Levy, a professor at Oregon State University and one of the authors of the recent research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences† They are usually not alone. They warn each other with sounds, there are many pairs of eyes and ears to be pricked and being with a pack of wolves gives you advantages in cougar detection and in defense.
Prugh’s meta-analysis of 256 studies conducted worldwide showed that there were strong similarities (the apex predators killed a large number of medium-sized predators), but also that the proportions were slightly different each time. Cougars kill wolves and then often eat them. Coyotes kill wolves on their own, sometimes decapitating, burying animal heads in the snow. In Europe, brown bears not only steal 40 to 60 percent of all Eurasian lynx prey but also chase them away. The amount of prey that the lynx has to give to the bears is so great that it is a “carry tax,” in the words of Brugge.
While North American wolves sometimes prey on cougars and coyotes, they also survive by hunting prey in groups, keeping more animals in check, and adapting to the life around them.
Read also: Photographer Spent a Year with Cougars – Here’s What He Learned
Other misocarnivores in parts of Africa are less fortunate. Any additional apex predators, such as lions, hyenas, leopards, and leopards, put “significant additional pressure” on the average animals as the “no enemy space” shrinks.
A mixture of fear and hunger
The dependence of medium-sized predators on prey killed by predators (eg the dependence of coyotes on pumas) can be taken as a sign that predators have less impact on large predator numbers, but their impact is greater. It depends on who you ask, Levi says.
“If you do not like cougars, tell us to shoot them. Because they not only kill deer themselves, but also support a large number of wolves, who also kill deer.” “But you could also say that we should conserve cougars by feeding them moose because they reduce the number of coyotes that kill deer. But we don’t have enough certainty on both opinions.
The researchers also still wanted to know if average animals had a higher risk of death by going to places where dead prey lurked. Species such as coyotes may be in danger of being attacked by cougars or wolves anyway, no matter where they are.
However, scientists know that not only fear of death is an important factor for species such as coyotes or foxes. The same goes for hunger.
“If you have a one in five chance of dying, that’s too bad,” Levy says. “So you think they would avoid this kind of situation. But I think it’s a trade-off between the advantage of getting prey versus not having the chance of becoming prey.”
This article was originally published in English at nationalgeographic.com