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: http://www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.
Stephen Sautner | Eurek Alert!
Europeans have unknowingly contributed to the spread of invasive plant species in North America
01.07.2015 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ
Darwin's finches have reached their limits on the Galápagos
23.06.2015 | University of Groningen
New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions
A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...
A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...
The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...
On June 23, the second Sentinel mission was launched from the space mission launch center in Kourou. A critical component of Aachen is on board. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and Tesat-Spacecom have jointly developed the know-how for space-qualified laser components. For the Sentinel mission the diode laser pump module of the Laser Communication Terminal LCT was planned and constructed in Aachen in cooperation with the manufacturer of the LCT, Tesat-Spacecom, and the Ferdinand Braun Institute.
After eight years of preparation, in the early morning of June 23 the time had come: in Kourou in French Guiana, the European Space Agency launched the...
25.06.2015 | Event News
16.06.2015 | Event News
11.06.2015 | Event News
01.07.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
01.07.2015 | Materials Sciences
01.07.2015 | Materials Sciences