The results of the study, which revealed a significant reduction in the number of large predators, particularly wolves in the Northern Hemisphere have shown that the current population of elk, deer, and other large herbivores too exceed their historical levels and contribute to disruption of the ecosystem.
In a paper published by researchers from the University of Oregon in the journal European Journal of Wildlife Research, was a survey of 42 studies conducted over the past 50 years. They found that the loss of top predators in forest ecosystems caused the increase in the number of herbivores, which significantly affected the growth of young trees and biodiversity in general. This in turn has led to the deforestation of some areas and an increase in the level of carbon in the atmosphere, due to the concern of scientists about climate change.
The density of large herbivorous mammals were six times greater in areas without wolves, compared to those areas where wolves were present, as the researchers noted. They also found that combinations of predators, such as wolves and bears that live in one area can create a synergy effect to regulate the populations of herbivores.
In addition, a new analysis clearly indicates that the potential impact of large carnivores in the ecosystem extends to larger areas of land than previously believed.
This means that predators can help in preserving rare species of plants, and, consequently, in the prevention of coastal erosion and reduction of forest areas by controlling the population of herbivores.
The study was presented in the online version of the professional journal European Journal of Wildlife Research.
Based on materials from Physorg