A lot of smaller animals that are prey to larger ones are always on the watch for predators, but in some instances, those smaller animals are literally fighting to survive as a whole, as the number of predators is outnumbering their own population and posing a threat to their global existence.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), invasive predators like cats, dogs, foxes, and more are posing huge threats to the existence of smaller animals like birds, reptiles, and rodents.
Feral cats alone may be responsible for up to 63 known extinctions, which is topped only by non-native rodent species, such as black rats and house mice, which have reportedly led to the extinction of up to 75 species.
“Because of our study, we now know that invasive mammalian predators have contributed to the extinction of 87 bird, 45 mammal, and 10 reptile species – an astonishing 58 percent of these groups’ contemporary extinctions worldwide,” study co-author Dr Doherty said.
“We also found that a further 596 threatened vertebrate species have suffered negative impacts from a total of 30 invasive predator species.”
Invasive predators pose a risk to smaller animals by attacking nests and killing the animals for food, which reduces reproduction and slows growth in population for the smaller species.
For what it’s worth, we’ve known that invasive predators have posed a threat to global biodiversity for some time now, but until this study, the quantifications and figures have all been very much a mystery. This study has shown some insight into the numbers of animals affected.
To help solve this problem, which can have dire consequences for an ecosystem as a whole, Dr Doherty notes that some kind of management of invasive predator species is required to help conserve all the species that are suffering by their hand.
“With this knowledge, we can design and prioritize management programs to protect threatened species and ultimately reduce the rate of global biodiversity loss,” he continued.
“Reducing and managing the impacts of invasive predators should be a global conservation priority, especially on islands, because species decline and extinction can have cascading impacts throughout an entire ecosystem.
Some governments are already working to introduce programs to eliminate invasive predators as to protect the smaller species that can’t defend themselves. Such should help slow their extinction rates and help protect the world’s fragile ecosystem.
Source: Deakin University