The study, published today in the open access journal BMC Ecology, shows that when salmon is available, wolves will reduce deer hunting activity and instead focus on seafood.
Chris Darimont from the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Canada, led a team of researchers who studied the feeding habits of wolves in a remote 3,300km2 area of British Columbia. As Darimont describes, “Over the course of four years, we identified prey remains in wolf droppings and carried out chemical analysis of shed wolf hair in order to determine what the wolves like to eat at various times of year”.
For most of the year, the wolves tend to eat deer, as one would expect. During the autumn, however, salmon becomes available and the wolves shift their culinary preferences. According to the authors, “One might expect that wolves would move onto salmon only if their mainstay deer were in short supply. Our data show that this is not the case, salmon availability clearly outperformed deer availability in predicting wolves’ use of salmon.”
This work gives researchers as much insight into salmon ecology as wolf ecology. Darimont’s mentor and co-author Thomas Reimchen, also of the University of Victoria, admits, “Salmon continue to surprise us, showing us new ways in which their oceanic migrations eventually permeate entire terrestrial ecosystems. In terms of providing food and nutrients to a whole food web, we like to think of them as North America’s answer to the Serengeti’s wildebeest.”
The authors explain that the wolves’ taste for fishy fare is likely based on safety, nutrition and energetics. Darimont said, “Selecting benign prey such as salmon makes sense from a safety point of view. While hunting deer, wolves commonly incur serious and often fatal injuries. In addition to safety benefits we determined that salmon also provides enhanced nutrition in terms of fat and energy”.
The research also warns that this already vestigial predator-prey relationship – one that once spread from California to Alaska – might not be around forever. Darimont cautions, “There are multiple threats to salmon systems, including overexploitation by fisheries and the destruction of spawning habitats, as well as diseases from exotic salmon aquaculture that collectively have led to coast-wide declines of up to 90% over the last century”.
Graeme Baldwin | alfa
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy