The slow-long-low road to be an APEX


What is an apex predator? Hmmm..simple enough question… Isn’t it just the species on top? So depending on whether it’s Yogi the Bear, Huckleberry Hound or Top Cat, so long as you’re the one eating the corn flakes, you’re the apex…right? Well……


It’s probably really important to lock down a solid answer to that question. After all, an apex predator can influence ecosystems in massive ways – limiting prey, controlling other smaller predators. Actually, it’s really the distinction of what is an apex- vs what is a meso- predator that remains mostly unclear.

So Arial and a team from across the globe decided to review the life-history traits of all the predators – literally line them up, end to end – to see if size had anything to do with how a top predator would behave and the kind of influence they would have.

What they found were some pretty  strong patterns related to predator size. Bigger predators (like say a bear) tend to have relatively slow reproductive rates, long periods of parental care of young, and low population densities compared to smaller predators (like say a fox). Actually, an average mass of 16 kg was identified as the transition point for species, above which a carnivore population becomes self-regulated, rather than being influenced by properties of the community.

That’s a definition right there. Self-regulating apex… Extrinsically-regulated meso…  Looks like some apex predators aren’t by definition apex predators 

For the actual science of this story you should definitely read the paper and contact the authors if you have any questions.

Wallach AD, Izhaki I, Toms JD, Ripple WJ & Shanas U (2015) What is an apex predator? Oikos 124: 1453–1461.

K!E#11 by Luke S. O’Loughlin

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s