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Animal populations are shrinking due to their risky food discovery strategies



Magellan penguins living in Argentina can easily find fish, suggesting that the food-finding opportunities are good for them. Thanks: Emily Shepard

A study in which four animal species animal studies were conducted to measure the feed intake of four very different wild vertebrates has shown that animals using a high risk strategy to search for rarer foods are particularly susceptible to extinction, because they do not collect food for their young before starving.

In the first study of its kind, a research team led by Swansea University used miniature 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 "Daily Diary", the tags capture a variety of data ̵

1; everything from the tiny movements of the animal through space and time to the temperature of its surroundings and the light values.

The results from the markings were used to measure:

  • The likelihood that every animal will find food.
  • The size of the food.
  • The effort to find the food.
  • The effort that was spent on all other activities such as rest, play, etc.

Professor Rory Wilson of Swansea University, a world-leading animal movement expert and lead author of The Study states, "We know that animal populations around the world are affected, with the most charismatic animals such as lions and cheetahs among the most endemic worst affected people, but until now it is not clear why. "

Our study has shown that animals that use a high-risk gambling strategy to find food, such as lions and tigers, who have to search long before finding happiness and prey, are more likely to fail the energy they provide need compared to animals that pursue a low-risk gambling strategy, such as herbivores such as zebras. "

Magellanic penguins living in Argentina find fish easily, indicating that the food-fi are the best chances for them." Photo credit: Rory Wilson, Swansea University

The average time that juveniles of any species can survive without food depends on their size (larger pups can survive longer), but newly hatched or newborn pups that do not have any of the tested species can live longer than a few days without food

The catastrophic results of these animals, which use a high-risk nutrition risk assessment strategy, are highlighted in the study by comparing two penguin species. While Magellan penguins living in Argentina can easily find fish, suggesting that the odds are good for them, African penguins, whose populations in southern Africa have declined for decades, have very little chance of receiving their food. [19659005] "It seems that commercial fishing has worsened the game rules for African penguins, and if animals take rare prey anyway, even small changes in the ecosystem due to human activities can be the straw that breaks the camel's back." and this seems to be the case for the African penguin, whose population is only 1% of what it was 100 years ago, "said Professor Wilson.

African penguins, whose population has been declining in southern Africa for decades, have very little chance of finding food. Their population is only one percent of what it was 100 years ago. Picture credits: David Grémillet

The researchers now hope that their model can be used to predict the fate of species around the world, which could be crucial for formulating conservation plans. Population Trajectories, published in Current Biology .


Explore Further:
After a bad winter in the sea, female Magellan penguins suffer most, study results

Further information:
Fortune in feeding affects the individual performance and trajectory of the population, Current Biology (2018). www.cell.com/current-biology/f… 0960-9822 (18) 31363-0

Magazine Reference:
Current biology

Provided by:
Swansea University


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