Saturday, 14 May 2011
Why are predators important?
Predators are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. Predators cull vulnerable prey, such as the old, injured, sick, or very young, leaving more food for the survival and prosperity of healthy prey animals. Also, by controlling the size of prey populations, predators help slow down the spread of disease. Predators will catch healthy prey when they can, but catching sick or injured animals helps in natural selection and the establishment of healthier prey populations as the fittest animals are left to survive and reproduce.
If carnivores were removed from an ecosystem, what would happen?
1. Antelope herds would grow and grow.
2. Only bad weather such as a drought, or disease such as rabies, would slow down the herd growth.
3. Large antelope herds would overgraze their food source, and as the food disappeared, the whole herd would begin to starve.
Many people fear predators, especially big cats such as the lion, cheetah, and leopard. We are often taught to fear carnivores without understanding their unique behaviours, special adaptations, and essential roles in the maintenance of healthy ecosystems.
Wouldn't a world without predators be something to fear even more?