Feeds

Deadly domino effect of extinction proved by boffins

One predator snuffs it and others follow in its wake

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Boffins have proved a theory for the first time that the extinction of one animal has a domino effect on other species.

The researchers from the University of Exeter found that when a carnivore dies out, other predatory species could soon follow.

The bioboffins used parasitic wasps to prove the ripple-effect one extinction can cause.

They bred two species of parasitic wasps and two types of aphids - little plant-sapping bugs - placing the different insects into tanks in different combinations.

In the tanks that only held one kind of wasp, the second went extinct within a few generations, but if both types of insect were kept in a tank, they thrived.

The second extinction was caused by the food running out. When the wasps that ate one of the aphids or greenflies weren't around, that bug grew in numbers, threatening the other little flies survival and therefore the second species' food.

"Our experiment provides the first proof of something that biologists have argued for a long time: predators can have indirect effects on each other, to the extent that when one species is lost, the loss of these indirect effects can lead to further extinctions," head boffin Dr Frank van Veen said in a canned statement.

Parasitic wasp attacks aphid

CHOW TIME!

"Although our study focused on insects, the principle would be the same for predators in any ecosystem, ranging from big cats on the African plains to fish in our seas."

Van Veen, who works at the university's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, said the study showed that trying to save just one kind of animal in an ecosystem could end up hurting it and other predators in the area.

"A ‘single species’ approach to conservation can be ineffective and even counter-productive," he argued. "For example, protecting cod could lead to increased fishing pressure on other predatory fish which then, by the mechanism we have demonstrated here, could lead to further negative effects on the cod."

The study was published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.