News Round-Up

Fear of predators shapes entire ecosystems

Source: fiu.edu

It doesn’t take much for a predator to terrify their prey. No tricks. No treats. Just good old-fashioned fear of being eaten.

A predator could just be exploring and wandering around — perhaps not even in the mood for its next meal. But prey don’t care about a predator’s intent — they know what could happen and that’s enough. That fear is a good thing for not only the prey but also for maintaining healthy, balanced ecosystems.

FIU marine ecologist Mike Heithaus and University of Washington ecologist Aaron Wirsing collaborated with colleagues from Yale, University of Illinois at Chicago and more to examine the “ecology of fear” — or the ripple effect that predators have on the behaviour of prey. They wanted to better understand the different stages of predator-prey interactions that don’t necessarily end with someone getting eaten. MORE

Header image: Florida International University.