Loss of large carnivores poses global conservation problem

Jan 09, 2014
Wolves are one of the important large predators that are disappearing and causing ecological disruption as a result. Credit: Photo by Doug McLaughlin, courtesy of Oregon State University

In ecosystems around the world, the decline of large predators such as lions, dingoes, wolves, otters, and bears is changing the face of landscapes from the tropics to the Arctic – but an analysis of 31 carnivore species published today in the journal Science shows for the first time how threats such as habitat loss, persecution by humans and loss of prey combine to create global hotspots of carnivore decline.

More than 75 percent of the 31 large-carnivore species are declining, and 17 species now occupy less than half of their former ranges, the authors reported.

Southeast Asia, southern and East Africa and the Amazon are among areas in which multiple large carnivore species are declining. With some exceptions, large have already been exterminated from much of the developed world, including Western Europe and the eastern United States.

"Globally, we are losing our large carnivores," said William Ripple, lead author of the paper and a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University.

"Many of them are endangered," he said. "Their ranges are collapsing. Many of these animals are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally. And, ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects."

Ripple and colleagues from the United States, Australia, Italy and Sweden called for an international initiative to conserve large predators in coexistence with people. They suggested that such an effort be modeled on the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a nonprofit scientific group affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Leopards, an important predator, are in serious decline. Credit: Photo by Kirstin Abley, courtesy of Oregon State University

The researchers reviewed published scientific reports and singled out seven species that have been studied for their widespread ecological effects or "trophic cascades." This includes African lions, leopards, Eurasian lynx, cougars, , sea otters and dingoes.

Ripple and his Oregon State co-author Robert Beschta have documented impacts of cougars and wolves on the regeneration of forest stands and riparian vegetation in Yellowstone and other national parks in North America. Fewer predators, they have found, lead to an increase in browsing animals such as deer and elk. More browsing disrupts vegetation, shifts birds and small mammals and changes other parts of the ecosystem in a widespread cascade of impacts.

Studies of Eurasian lynx, dingoes, lions and sea otters have found similar effects, the authors reported.

Lynx have been closely tied to the abundance of roe deer, red fox and hare. In Australia, the construction of a 3,400-mile dingo-proof fence has enabled scientists to study ecosystems with and without the animals, which are closely related to gray wolves. In some parts of Africa, the decrease of lions and leopards has coincided with a dramatic increase in olive baboons, which threaten farm crops and livestock. In the waters off southeast Alaska, a decline in through killer whale predation has led to a rise in sea urchins and loss of kelp beds.

The authors call for a deeper understanding of the impact of large carnivores on ecosystems, a view that they trace back to the work of landmark ecologist Aldo Leopold. The classic concept that predators are harmful and deplete fish and wildlife is outdated, they said. Scientists and wildlife managers need to recognize a growing body of evidence for the complex roles that carnivores play in ecosystems and for their social and economic benefits.

Leopold recognized such relationships between and ecosystems, Ripple said, but his observations on that point were largely ignored for decades after his death in 1948.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video, "As Predators Disappear, Ecosystems Suffer," shows the consequences of wolf elimination and reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park.

"Human tolerance of these species is a major issue for conservation," Ripple said. "We say these animals have an intrinsic right to exist, but they are also providing economic and ecological services that people value."

Among the services that have been documented in other studies are carbon sequestration, riparian restoration, biodiversity and disease control.

Where large carnivores have been restored—such as wolves in Yellowstone or Eurasian lynx in Finland—ecosystems have responded quickly, said Ripple. "I am impressed with how resilient the Yellowstone ecosystem is. It isn't happening quickly everywhere, but in some places, ecosystem restoration has started there."

In those cases, where loss of vegetation has led to soil erosion, for example, full restoration in the near term may not be possible, he said.

"Nature is highly interconnected," said Ripple. "The work at Yellowstone and other places shows how one species affects another and another through different pathways. It's humbling as a scientist to see the interconnectedness of nature."

Explore further: Prized sea snail not at risk of extinction, federal officials say

More information: "Status and Ecological Effects of the World's Largest Carnivores," by W.J. Ripple et al. Science, 2014. DOI:10.1126/science.1241484

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betterexists
1 / 5 (8) Jan 09, 2014
U.K obtained 20,000 Liters of Diesel to drive Thousands of Miles from 1 Stranded Dead Whale.
3 Dead Cats Provide 1 Gallon Gasoline. Someone drove almost 150,000 miles with that kind of fuel.
So, Rejoice if Carnivores are Totally decimated from this Planet; May be Store their DNA in Deep Freeze. Include Dogs TOO!
Once Herbivores multiply, use them for food or for making BioFuel/Diesel/Gasoline
NO Lignin Worries!
betterexists
1 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2014
Dinosaurs became Extinct. Several of Them were Carnivores!
NOTHING HAPPENED to Earth's Ecosystems.
Don't Pay heed to Biologists' B.S
betterexists
1 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2014
Attempt Forest Agriculture; Herbivores don't eat corn, rice or wheat...........JUST DAMNED GRASS.
Make Abundant Grass.....Dump near Herbivores.....Dump Their Corpses into Gasoline making Factories in Exchange!
betterexists
1.4 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2014
Global warming issue...which The Ultrawealthy despise just because they have to shell out big sacs of dollars to make industries foolproof....IDIOTS WITH NO Scientific knowledge follow suit like SHEEP!
River Flooding is Dangerous....IMAGINE the aftermath of Oceanic Floods. NO ISLANDS Whatsoever....Forget any Land masses.
shavera
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2014
"Dinosaurs became extinct... nothing happened to Earth's ecosystems." Let us ponder this zen koan for a moment.
Returners
1.3 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2014
the grass is greener on the other side, at least until you have bobcats and coyotes stealing your livestock.

a bit over a week ago, we had to "dispose" of a coyote which killed several goats.

they might not be a threat to humans directly, but if they kill enough of your stuff, yeah, that starts to hurt the wallet and the bank.

Never seen a coyote around here before, but we got him on camera eating the remains of one of the goats. Plus there was an owl too.
Stavanger
5 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2014
Dinosaurs became Extinct. Several of Them were Carnivores!
NOTHING HAPPENED to Earth's Ecosystems.
Don't Pay heed to Biologists' B.S

Not the brightest apple in the basket, are you?
Sinister1812
2 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
"Dinosaurs became extinct... nothing happened to Earth's ecosystems." Let us ponder this zen koan for a moment.


How do you know? None of us were around during those days.

I usually agree with you, but I don't agree with that. It takes evolution millions of years to fill those empty spaces. Hence why the mammals took over.
Sinister1812
3 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
the construction of a 3,400-mile dingo-proof fence has enabled scientists to study ecosystems with and without the animals, which are closely related to gray wolves


And thanks to dingo culling, it has allowed pests like rabbits, foxes, feral cats to take over. Even roos have to be managed now. But it's all for profits $$.
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
"Dinosaurs became extinct... nothing happened to Earth's ecosystems." Let us ponder this zen koan for a moment.


Sorry, didn't realize you were quoting betterexists. My bad, should've given ya a 5.
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Jan 10, 2014
Most of you want status quo; Junk music without real-life type video, your leopards, all of your junk, diseases, wars killing people..byebull....but not work on myshitLikeESCs...Several of the IDIOTS do not even know what ESCs are! You want Dinosaurs, IDIOTS? They were humongous Whale sized EAGLES TOOOO!
Always want status quo&yourbyebull!
betterexists
1 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2014
I am sure 1 leopard kills at least 2000 herbivores...not to speak of rabbits etc i.e at least 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year! 1 giant whale = 20,000 liters of diesel
Shtnow ridden nations do not have elephants etc., So, there is less yield of Biofuel, I do accept!
You IDIOTS want to get out of Evolution but NOTbyebull and some dirty aspects of biology. Go and count how many legs each insect has!
Sigh
5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
U.K obtained 20,000 Liters of Diesel to drive Thousands of Miles from 1 Stranded Dead Whale.

Do you have a reference for that?

3 Dead Cats Provide 1 Gallon Gasoline. Someone drove almost 150,000 miles with that kind of fuel.

A domestic cat weighs about 4kg, and a gallon of petrol about the same. How do you get 4kg petrol out of 12kg of cat? If you convert fat, do you assume one third of each cat is fat? Do you claim you can convert protein into petrol? What is the efficiency of the process? How much energy in versus how much out when the fuel is used in an internal combustion engine, once you have collected your cats? What is the efficiency once you factor in production of cat food?

And are you saying someone drove "almost 150,000 miles" on one gallon of petrol, or someone drove that distance using petrol, however many thousands of gallons might have been used?
Sigh
5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
the grass is greener on the other side, at least until you have bobcats and coyotes stealing your livestock.

a bit over a week ago, we had to "dispose" of a coyote which killed several goats.

You didn't have to, even to save your remaining goats. If you lace the carcass with just enough lithium chloride that whatever eats it feels sick, but not so much that it can be tasted, then the predator will stop preying on what is clearly not good to eat: http://www.condit...ion.net/
Sigh
5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
I am sure 1 leopard kills at least 2000 herbivores...not to speak of rabbits etc i.e at least 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year!

You assume that 500 gallons of petrol, or about 2 metric tons, can be extracted from each of the herbivores that a leopard kills? What do you think a leopard preys on? Elephants? Whales?

And did you just go from 2000 herbivores over a leopard's lifetime to 2000 herbivores in a year, to get your 1,000,000 gallons per year? So one leopard would kill an average of 5.5 herbivores per day, each big enough to extract 2 tons of fuel from it? That's a lot of elephants.

Quite apart from providing the evidence for your premises, I think you need to work a bit on arithmetic before I am willing to believe any of your conclusions.
Liquid1474
3 / 5 (3) Jan 10, 2014
@ betterexists

YOUR mom let you on the computer?
Looks, both of you must have forgotten your meds.

I say this to help you, not to be popular
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
]
Do you have a reference for that?
A domestic cat weighs about 4kg, and a gallon of petrol about the same. How do you get 4kg petrol out of 12kg of cat? If you convert fat, do you assume one third of each cat is fat? Do you claim you can convert protein into petrol? What is the efficiency of the process? How much energy in versus how much out when the fuel is used in an internal combustion engine, once you have collected your cats? What is the efficiency once you factor in production of cat food?

DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO DO GOOGLE SEARCH? Also, take a look at that whale photo too. Do you think I hold onto URLs after reading them?
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
I am sure 1 leopard kills at least 2000 herbivores...not to speak of rabbits etc i.e at least 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year!

You assume that 500 gallons of petrol, or about 2 metric tons, can be extracted from each of the herbivores that a leopard kills? What do you think a leopard preys on? Elephants? Whales?And did you just go from 2000 herbivores over a leopard's lifetime to 2000 herbivores in a year, to get your 1,000,000 gallons per year? So one leopard would kill an average of 5.5 herbivores per day, each big enough to extract 2 tons of fuel from it? That's a lot of elephants.Quite apart from providing the evidence for your premises, I think you need to work a bit on arithmetic before I am willing to believe any of your conclusions.


Don' talk Maths here. I just want the Garbage DOGS & CARNIVORES,ESCs OUT..BEEBULL TOO
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
U.K obtained 20,000 Liters of Diesel to drive Thousands of Miles from 1 Stranded Dead Whale.

Do you have a reference for that?

3 Dead Cats Provide 1 Gallon Gasoline. Someone drove almost 150,000 miles with that

I am NOT writing a Scientific Article to be EXACT with Figures. Imagine how much diesel in lieu of All the Idiotic Brainless Carnivores.
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
Fewer predators, they have found, lead to an increase in browsing animals such as deer and elk. More browsing disrupts vegetation, shifts birds and small mammals and changes other parts of the ecosystem in a widespread cascade of impacts.


Issue more hunting permits. There is nothing teeth and muscle can do that a bullet can't in this case. This is a question of competing human values the eco-system is in no danger AT ALL. That's an attempt to subvert the argument and slip in a trump to avoid TALKING about the fact that all this boils down to what one human thinks about which animals should be around vs another. It's intellectually dishonest and it's why people increasingly are taking radical environmentalists less and less seriously...especially in the States these idiotic policy arguments are put forth...

It's interesting to note that prior to the re-introduction of wolves in the west the argument was that it would INCREASE herd populations and increase herd health...
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
I Could not find URL for Whale.
Here is one more:
http://joshblackm...e-yield/
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
Only thing wrong while dealing with Macro-Animals is Torturing them; Cruelty to Big Animals could spread to Fellow Beings.
While dealing with Termites, Ants and Mosquitoes ....No one gives a Damn. They are killed in big numbers....but they also suffer pain like goats....Idiotic DOGS etc.,
Just store the DNA of Carnivores...Use their bodies for Biofuel production. Control the Herbivore populations for MAXIMUM OIL YIELD. Artificial Insemination of Females, Growing grasses for them etc.,
When there is an unnecessary letter in the sentence...we remove them.
CARNIVORES & DOGS are NOT needed...except for Blind guide dogs etc
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
URL for Whale.
Here it is
http://www.telegr...uel.html
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
I am sure 1 leopard kills at least 2000 herbivores...not to speak of rabbits etc i.e at least 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year!


Quite apart from providing the evidence for your premises, I think you need to work a bit on arithmetic before I am willing to believe any of your conclusions.

I AM NOT WRITING A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE; I did NOT PAY attention to math at all. For your info, I got A ALWAYS in math..upto calculus. The figure got inflated assuming the animal might also be killing small animals that come in its way. They just do not have any other job. Jungles are full of varieties of animals. Just because you see couple of national geographic commercial videos...it does not mean they are restrictive.
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
URL for Whale.
Here it is
http://www.telegr...uel.html

It is 2000 litres from Whale...NOT 20,000 litres.
I Read it long time back. My focus was NOT on Math at all....Only on.... getting rid of Carnivores ON LAND.....Them into Biofuel ....rather than worrying about Plants & Lignin.
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
Decades ago not many attempts were made to get Biofuel from Animals or Plants. So, menace of Rabbits etc in the absence of carnivores was worrisome.
Now a days we keep reading about struggling to get over the Lignin barrier constantly.
I am sure Rabbits/Rodents can be trapped if they are multiplying in the absence of carnivores. Sending them to make biofuel or to be canned should be big business rather than a nuisance!
betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
Most of you want status quo; Junk music without real-life type video, your leopards, all of your junk, diseases, wars killing people..byebull....but not work on myshitLikeESCs...Several of the IDIOTS do not even know what ESCs are! You want Dinosaurs, IDIOTS? They were humongous Whale sized EAGLES TOOOO!
Always want status quo&yourbyebull!

I saw a video in which an Eagle carried a baby to quite a distance.
No humans or Elephants with those dinosaurs flying over us.
tadchem
1.5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
In my list of priorities, self-preservation, protecting the lives of my fellow humans, and protecting our food supply (including edible herbivores) all trump protecting environmental diversity.
Sinister1812
not rated yet Jan 10, 2014
In my list of priorities, self-preservation, protecting the lives of my fellow humans, and protecting our food supply (including edible herbivores) all trump protecting environmental diversity.


The West Australian government said the same thing to justify their ridiculous plan of culling sharks off the coast.. When lightning alone kills more people a year than sharks. Nothing new here, usual right-wing apathetic bs.
Waaalt
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
Never seen a coyote around here before, but we got him on camera eating the remains of one of the goats. Plus there was an owl too.


The range of coyotes is expanding over time as they move into areas that no longer have wolves. Wolves don't tolerate coyotes in their territory.

"Non-lethaly" poisoning coyotes won't work. You'd never get the dose "just right" and it would just kill the coyotes or not bother them at all. You'd kill a bunch of birds etc too. Meanwhile new coyotes would soon show up and kill your new goats before you knew to put more poison traps out for them.

The whole idea is dumb and sick. The sort of person who would actually do this is just a dumb sicko who enjoys poisoning animals and probably doesn't know a damn thing about livestock other than how much they paid and how cost and how much they want to sell them for.

Coyotes shouldn't be a problem at all, you just have to get a few flock protector dogs like Great Pyrenees.
Waaalt
5 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
http://en.wikiped...dian_dog
vs
http://en.wikiped...i/Coyote

Coyotes are generally not a problem for flock protector type dogs because they were traditionally up against actual wolves and even bears. Coyotes are more or less just small dogs themselves and more like ~50lbs at most so pretty small. According to the wiki, the largest recorded coyote was just under 75lbs.

Of course, without any wolves around, what is going to happen over time is that if the process went undisturbed, coyotes would 'become wolves.' After filling the territory, the coyotes would have to compete with each other and the trend would be towards bigger, meaner coyotes, that were more aggressive, more territorial, and which worked more effectively as a team. So basically, they'd become wolves.

I couldn't tell you how long that would take though. Maybe just a couple of hundred years, really? Anyways for our lifetime, the flock protecting breeds should just scare off coyotes.
Whydening Gyre
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
Coyotes shouldn't be a problem at all, you just have to get a few flock protector dogs like Great Pyrenees.


My Annabelle (great pyrenees) was a champ at keeping the coyotes out of our (and our adjacent neighbors) yard(s). Between the 3 of us she patrolled 10 acres. That was her job and she did it well. Best dog I ever had.
jdb6659
5 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
Dinosaurs became Extinct. Several of Them were Carnivores!
NOTHING HAPPENED to Earth's Ecosystems.
Don't Pay heed to Biologists' B.S


Funny... What happened after the carnivore dinos died? Someone else already said it... the mammals filled the vacant ecological niches. Some became carnivores. Nature and evolution channeled them into that role. So, to say that carnivores are not needed and the abscence of them would have no effect on the ecosystem is superbly ignorant. And all this talk about biofuels is pointless. Why not just genetically engineer an animal to consume all others that can produce pre-refined diesel? Sounds about as intelligent as eradicating all the carnivores on earth. Then you would LITERALLY... be sucking on the petroleum teet. Fitting. Wise up, people. There's more at stake than just your paycheck or a pretty national park.

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