News / Science & Technology

Decline of Large Predators Could Have Ripple Effects for Wider Environment

File - A leopard yawns inside its enclosure at the Madrid Zoo July 23, 2013.
File - A leopard yawns inside its enclosure at the Madrid Zoo July 23, 2013.

Related Articles

Civilian Drones Raise Hopes, Questions in Africa

Engineers and entrepreneurs say unmanned aerial vehicles could do so much more than just track the bad guys

China Destroys 6 Tons of Illegal Ivory

Environmental activists say public destruction sends powerful message to would-be smugglers, consumers that such trade will no longer be tolerated
VOA News
Falling numbers of apex predators like wolves and mountain lions might be good news for the animals those carnivores prey on. But the resulting growth in populations of those carnivores eat has a negative impact on the wider environment.

More than 75 percent of the world’s large carnivores are declining, according to a new study.

“Globally, we are losing our large carnivores,” said William Ripple, lead author of the paper and a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University in a statement. “Many of them are endangered. Their ranges are collapsing. Many of these animals are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally.”

Large carnivores have largely been eliminated from the developed world, and Southeast Asia, southern and East Africa and the Amazon basin were areas seeing a decline in the species. And the effects of the losses could have wider ramifications.

“Ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects,” added Ripple.

According to the Oregon State announcement, researchers documented the impact of cougars and wolves on the regeneration of forests and other flora around streams and rivers in Yellowstone National Park. The decline of predators led to an increase in “browsing animals such as deer and elk,” which leads to a “disruption of vegetation as well as “shifting” birds and other small mammals.

Similar effects have been seen in other areas where the Eurasian lynx, dingoes, lions and sea otters have been in decline, according to the research.  A lack of lynx has led to more roe deer, red fox and hare. The decline of lions and leopards led to an increase in olive baboons, which pose a threat to agriculture. In the waters off southeast Alaska, the loss of sea otters resulted a rise in sea urchins and the loss of kelp beds

There is hope, however, according to study. The researchers found that in some cases where large predators are reintroduced, such as the wolf restoration in Yellowstone, ecosystems show signs of recovery.

“I am impressed with how resilient the Yellowstone ecosystem is,” Ripple said. “It isn’t happening quickly everywhere, but in some places, ecosystem restoration has started there.”

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs