Tag Archives | herbivores

Sixty Percent of Large Herbivores Face Threat Of Extinction

Sixty Percent. More than half… The bad news from the BBC:

Populations of some of the world’s largest wild animals are dwindling, raising the threat of an “empty landscape”, say scientists.

Black rhino

Black Rhinoceros by Matthew Field (CC)

About 60% of giant herbivores – plant-eaters – including rhinos, elephants and gorillas, are at risk of extinction, according to research.

Analysis of 74 herbivore species, published in Science Advances, blamed poaching and habitat loss.

A previous study of large carnivores showed similar declines.

Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University, led the research looking at herbivores weighing over 100kg, from the reindeer up to the African elephant.

“This is the first time anyone has analysed all of these species as a whole,” he said.

“The process of declining animals is causing an empty landscape in the forest, savannah, grasslands and desert.”

Prof David Macdonald, of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, was among the team of 15 international scientists.

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Fruits and Veggies Can Be “Trained” to Defend against Herbivores

attack_of_the_killer_tomatoesJane J. Lee writes at National Geographic:

A study published online today in the journal Current Biology found that store-bought cabbage, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, and blueberries respond to light-dark cycles up to about a week after harvest.

And when the produce was kept on the same light-dark cycle as a predator—cabbage looper moth caterpillars (Trichoplusia ni)—it was better able to resist attacks.

Circadian clocks tell plants when the seasons change due to variations in day length, saidJanet Braam, a plant biologist at Rice University in Houston, Texas. But the clock is also critical in plant defenses against insects.

“[Plants] know when the insects eat,” said Braam, who is a co-author on the recent study, “so they can prepare a defense in advance.”

Braam and colleagues knew that levels of protective compounds called glucosinolates were under the control of the circadian clock in a plant called Arabidopsis.

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