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Animals lose fear of predators rapidly after they start encountering humans

Source: sciencedaily.com

Most wild animals show a suite of predator avoidance behaviours such as vigilance, freezing, and fleeing. But these are quickly reduced after the animals come into contact with humans through captivity, domestication, or urbanisation, according to a study led by Benjamin Geffroy from MARBEC (Institute of Marine Biodiversity, Exploitation and Conservation), publishing September 22nd in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.

The international team of researchers analysed the results of 173 peer-reviewed studies investigating anti-predator traits (behavioural and physiological) in 102 species of domesticated, captive, and urbanised mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and molluscs, while taking into account their position in the Tree of Life.

The scientists found that contact with humans led to a rapid loss of animals anti-predator traits, but simultaneously the variability between individuals initially increases and then gradually decreases over the generations in contact with human. The authors suppose that this two-step process is caused by reduced pressure from natural selection as a result of living in a safer environment, followed by artificial selection by humans for docility in the case of domestication. MORE