nervous herbivores

A new study has discovered that predators help to fight climate change. Plant matter stores a huge amount of carbon, yet herbivores eat plants. When predators hunt and kill the herbivores they are allowing a few more plants to survive and grow.

ENN gave examples of the elk and grasshopper that can be found in abundance on wild grasslands in the US. Both consume large amounts of carbon absorbing vegetation, but are in turn killed and eaten by wolves and ambush spiders.

The study, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that the presence of the predators made the herbivores more nervous and agitated, forcing them to look up more in search of the predators, and therefore affording them less time to graze on plants.

Professor Oswald Schmitz, from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said that “the results provide some new food for thought about how we might use animals to manage carbon release to the atmosphere.”

oilprice.com, 21 Jun 2014