The more we carve up natural landscapes with roads and fields, the closer we’re pushing large predators like lions and wolves, toward extinction. by Larry Powell
While the consequences of habitat loss have been known for some time, new research just published, underlines just how grave the situation has become.
It’s called “habitat fragmentation.” And, it’s been happening on such a large scale, it’s been hard to tell what aspects are the most destructive. That's because ecologists - at least 'til now - haven't been able to properly keep track of all wildlife within an entire eco-system when human developments confine them to smaller and more isolated patches of livable space.
Using a new computer modelling system, German scientists have concluded, such landscapes are a big problem for large predators such as lions and wolves. They're the ones who run out of food first as their prey diminishes. If these large predators disappear, entire wildlife "communities" suffer.
The study concludes, "Habitat isolation is the main driver causing species loss and diversity decline." This can include the collapse of entire, complex "food webs" and make these large "apex" predators the most vulnerable to outright extinctions.
The study was published yesterday in the proceedings of The Royal Society.