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Thanks to humans, old school apex predators are struggling to hold onto their perch at the top of the food chain. And now a new class of adaptable mesopredators are remaking the ecosystems they take over.
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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Food Web: The feeding relationships between animals that determine how energy and nutrients are spread throughout an ecosystem.
Trophic Level: A hierarchical level in an ecosystem made up of organisms that share the same function in the food web.
Apex predator: The animals at the top trophic level that feed on animals and organisms below them.
Mesopredator: A member of a mid-ranking trophic level that preys on animals and organisms in lower trophic levels and occasionally gets eat by apex predators.
Mesopredator Release: An ecological phenomenon in which mesopredators rapidly grow in population once apex predators are removed from an ecosystem.
Trophic Cascade: A series of dramatic changes in an ecosystem often triggered by mesopredator release.
If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
ScienceWithTom goes deep on the science in this video with ecologist Alex McInturff: https://youtu.be/TJcgtqjj-yo
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Script Writer: Tom McFadden
Script Editor: David Goldenberg
Video Illustrator: Qingyang Chen
Video Director: David Goldenberg, Emily Elert
Video Narrator: Emily Elert, Tom McFadden
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Kate Yoshida, Ever Salazar, Emily Elert, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder
Darimont, C., Fox, C., Bryan, H., and Reimchen, C. (2015). The Unique Ecology of Human Predators. Science. 349: 6250 (858-860). Retrieved from: http://science.sciencemag.org/content...
Prugh, L., Stoner, C., Epps, C., Bean, W., Ripple, W., Laliberte, A. and Brashares, J. (2009). The Rise of the Mesopredator. BioScience. 59:9 (779-791). Retrieved from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/...
Baum, J. and Worm, B. (2009). Cascading Top-down Effects of Changing Oceanic Predator Abundances (2009). Journal of Animal Ecology. 78: 699-714. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...
McInturff, Alex. (2018). Personal Communication. Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at University of California, Berkeley.