Saturday, March 1, 2014

Predators and their Role in Ecosystem Preservation

The importance of terrestrial predators in maintaining healthy biodiversity seems counterintuitive. After all,
they kill things! It turns out that their role goes far beyond just keeping certain species of prey from overpopulating.
"The role of carnivores does not end with manipulating the densities of their prey and competitors – they provide a spate of other ecosystem services: from the obvious tourism dollars (watching lions, etc.), to the less well-appreciated increase in carbon sequestration by limiting herbivore abundance and thus enhancing plant growth, and the enhancement of nutrient cycling by supporting detrivore guilds (like scavengers). Large carnivores can even benefit the industry that persecutes them the most – pastoralism – by limiting the density of wild herbivores that compete for vegetation biomass eaten by commercial livestock. They can also potentially soften the impact of climate change on other species by limiting the advance of invasive species, and by promoting regeneration of degraded vegetation as it struggles to cope with new climate extremes." - Conservation
Hunters, livestock producers, politicians, and conservationists have some fairly strong opinions about how big of a role non-human predators should be allowed to play. It’s unclear how, if ever, such debates will be resolved. But one thing is clear. There’s a great deal of misunderstanding about carnivores, their impacts, and their ecological role. - Joe Scott, International Conservation Director 

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