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Scientists have identified Australia's deadliest predator

Scientists have identified Australia's deadliest predator

Recent research has shown that Australian marsupials fear humans more than any other predator, reinforcing the view that humans are the planet's most feared predator with significant ecological implications.

Kangaroos and wallabies fear human “super predators” more than dogs, devils or wolves.

Australia does not have large, fearsome carnivores like lions and wolves. Thus, native marsupials such as kangaroos and wallabies show relatively little fear of dogs and other introduced predators, likely due to their evolutionary inexperience with large mammal threats. However, this does not take into account the existence of the human “superpredator”, the world's most feared predator, in Australia for 50,000 years.
A new study led by Western University biology professor Liana Channett, along with Calum Cunningham and Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania, shows that Australian kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials are more afraid of humans than other predators. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society b.

These results significantly reinforce the results of similar studies by Channett and colleagues in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, which show that wildlife around the world are more afraid of the human “super predator” than lions, cheetahs, cougars and bears. , wolves or dogs.

METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS OF THE STUDY

For this new study, Zanette and her colleagues worked in Tasmania's eucalyptus forest and experimentally demonstrated that kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials are 2.4 times more likely to flee when hearing human voices than dogs, Tasmanian devils or wolves. . each one species Also, the marsupial community showed the same pattern, with twice as many escapees from humans as the second most feared predator, the dog in every case, and all were more alert around humans.

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“These results significantly expand the growing body of experimental evidence that wildlife around the world view humans as the planet's worst predators,” said Janet, a renowned wildlife ecologist. “The most important fear of humans has been demonstrated here, and in comparable recent experiments, can have dramatic ecological consequences. Other new research has established that fear itself can reduce wild animal populations, and that fear of humans can have impacts on many species. Across entire landscapes.”

To conduct their experiment, the team used hidden automated camera and speaker systems to record people talking quietly and dogs barking as an animal passed by at short distances (about 10 meters or 30 feet). Tasmanian devils growl. , non-threatening controls such as howling wolves or bleating sheep.

“Global studies show that humans kill their prey at a higher rate than any other predator, making humans a 'superpredator,' and the deep fear that humans manifest in wildlife everywhere is entirely consistent with humanity's unique mortality,” Janet said. “Humans are the 'invisible killer' in that we don't often think of ourselves as a large predator, let alone a very dangerous one, but wildlife clearly thinks differently – and recognizes who we are. »