Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Monogamous animals may be more likely to die out

26.05.2003


New research reveals a surprising risk factor for extinction: monogamy. Large mammals that live in pairs or have small harems are far more likely to die out than those with big harems in reserves in Ghana.



"In avoiding extinction, it pays to be promiscuous," says Justin Brashares of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who presents this work in the June issue of Conservation Biology. "This study is the first to show a strong link between social behavior and risk of extinction in mammals."

Most studies of risk factors for extinction are based on natural extinctions through the ages – but other risk factors may be at play in today’s world, where the extinction rate is unnaturally high due to overhunting, habitat fragmentation and other disturbances caused by people. Knowing which species are particularly sensitive to these disturbances would help conservationists figure out how to save them. Since 1970, more than half of the mammal populations in Ghanian reserves have become locally extinct. "This shocking loss of abundance and local diversity is occurring throughout Africa," says Brashares.


To help identify the risk factors for modern extinctions, he analyzed the extinctions and persistences of large mammals in six reserves in the savannas of Ghana, where the mammals have been censused monthly for more than 30 years and 78 local extinctions have been documented. Brashares assessed the extinction risk of nine traits (including population isolation, harem size, abundance and how much people like to eat them) in 41 mammal species (9 primates, 24 ungulates and 8 carnivores).

After accounting for the effect of reserve size, Brashares found that two of the factors studied correlated with local extinctions in the Ghanian reserves. The first is population isolation, which is not surprising because this was previously known to be a risk factor for natural extinctions.

The second is harem size: mammals that are monogamous or have small harems were more prone to extinction. For instance, several duiker species, which are monogamous, died out an average of 10 years after the reserves were established, while the African buffalo, which has harems with about 15 females, is still living in all the reserves. Similarly, several colobus monkey species, which have few mates, died out an average of 18 years after the reserves were established, while green monkeys and baboons, which have many mates, are still living in all the reserves.

How could being monogamous make animals more vulnerable to extinction? No one knows for sure but there is some evidence that hunters take more males than females from populations, which could lead to a dearth of males available for pairing in monogamous species. In contrast, species with large harems are more likely to have plenty of "spare" males. Another possibility is that when animals live in pairs or small groups, they are less likely to detect approaching hunters. "It may just be that it’s a lot easier to sneak up on one or two animals than it is 20," says Brashares.

This work suggests that managers should target conservation efforts and monitoring on species that are monogamous or live in small groups. "This could mean using them as indicator or umbrella species, or just giving these species special attention," says Brashares.

Justin Brashares | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://conbio.net/scb
http://conservationbiology.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>