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Science. 2001 Feb 9;291(5506):1036-9.

Recolonizing carnivores and naïve prey: conservation lessons from Pleistocene extinctions.

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  • 1Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89512, USA. berger@unr.edu

Abstract

The current extinction of many of Earth's large terrestrial carnivores has left some extant prey species lacking knowledge about contemporary predators, a situation roughly parallel to that 10,000 to 50,000 years ago, when naive animals first encountered colonizing human hunters. Along present-day carnivore recolonization fronts, brown (also called grizzly) bears killed predator-naive adult moose at disproportionately high rates in Scandinavia, and moose mothers who lost juveniles to recolonizing wolves in North America's Yellowstone region developed hypersensitivity to wolf howls. Although prey that had been unfamiliar with dangerous predators for as few as 50 to 130 years were highly vulnerable to initial encounters, behavioral adjustments to reduce predation transpired within a single generation. The fact that at least one prey species quickly learns to be wary of restored carnivores should negate fears about localized prey extinction.

PMID:
11161215
DOI:
10.1126/science.1056466
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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