Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


In wild yak society, moms are the real climbers


A new study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society says that in wild yak societies, it's the mothers that are the real climbers. The study found that mothers with young venture on steeper terrain and slightly higher elevation than either males or females without young.

The authors of the study expect that this strategy is an adaptive way to avoid predators and to access more nutritious food. Wild yaks are an endangered species occurring only on the Tibetan Plateau and closely related to North American bison.

These are wild yak females in their extremely rugged habitat in far western China.

Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society

The study, which appears in the June issue of the Journal of Mammalogy is authored by Joel Berger of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the John J. Craighead professor at University of Montana; Ellen Cheng of the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment; Aili Kang of WCS; Michael Krebs of the University of Montana; Lishu Li of Beijing; Zhao Xin Lu and Buqiong Buzhou of Kekexili National Nature Reserve Management Bureau; and George Schaller of WCS and Panthera.

The study reported that wild yak females are found on mountainous slopes averaging 15,994 feet and in groups of about 30 whereas males were more frequently in valley bottoms and groups of just two.

Wild yaks are the largest grazer north of the tropics; while weights are rarely known, they are larger than bison. Domestic yaks were once bred with bison in northern Canada in the 1920's in an attempt to make for more cold-hearty animals.

The authors of the study say that the remoteness of the wild yak's habitat gives conservationists an opportunity to study a species that has not been largely impacted by humans. Bison on the other hand, have been greatly impacted by human activity and habitat fragmentation. Their ability to range in higher elevations has been largely lost although skulls have been found in the Rocky Mountains above 12,000 feet in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Lead author Joel Berger of WCS and University of Montana said: "Neither habitat destruction nor fragmentation are issues in the yak's home in far western China, and so there are amazing opportunities to learn about why males and females respond differently to climate change and biological challenges.

But, more fundamentally, just as people climb mountains in the Himalayas because they are there, here we have a throwback to the Pleistocene; it is still here, and we by uniting people from different countries have the opportunity to conserve a species, not to mention an ecosystem and a landscape that is larger than all of Montana and Nebraska combined."


This research was made possible through the generous support of the National Geographic Society and U.S. National Park Service.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world's oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit:;; Follow: @thewcs.

CONTACT: STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682;
JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275;

Stephen Sautner | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Conservation Mammalogy Montana Panthera WCS Wildlife climbers ecosystem females fragmentation generous habitat nutritious species

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril
09.10.2015 | University of Exeter

nachricht NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event
08.10.2015 | NOAA Headquarters

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Navigating the unknown

09.10.2015 | Information Technology

New Artificial Cells Mimic Nature’s Tiny Reactors

09.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

Chimpanzees Shed Light on Origins of Human Walking

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>