What is human predator

Why humans are "super predators"

Lions, polar bears, sharks ... the most powerful predators on earth have an undisputed master: humans are monstrous "super predators", scientists have now confirmed with research data. Their results show that the predatory behavior of humans is clearly different from that of all predators. His critical specialty: He prey mainly on adult specimens of animals and in turn also targets many predators. These peculiarities are among the fundamental causes of species extinction and disruption of the food chains, say the researchers.

A hunter like the world has never seen before: Technological and cultural developments already opened up a wide range of different prey animals to our ancestors, many of which were even significantly larger and stronger than humans. These skills became the foundation of our unprecedented careers Species. One might think that since the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry around 10,000 years ago, hunting has become less characteristic of humans. But that is not the case, say Chris Darimont from the Canadian University of Victoria and his colleagues: Man has remained true to his original role as a hunter and has even expanded it dramatically.

The researchers support these statements with the results of a data analysis on 2,135 wild animal populations worldwide - on land and in water. They evaluated predator-prey systems, but also the extent and characteristics of human hunting or fishing. According to the researchers, what is particularly unusual is that humans are after many predators: humans hunt and kill large land predators such as bears, wolves and lions nine times more often than these predators kill each other in the wild. The effect in the sea is even more blatant. The fishery decimates the fish stocks 14 times more intensely than natural sea predators, report Darimont and his colleagues.

The “reproductive capital” in sight

Humans also differ fundamentally from animal predators in that they prey on particularly strong adult animals of a particular species. “While predators mostly catch young animals, humans decimate the reproductive adult animals - the reproductive capital of the stocks,” says co-author Tom Reimchen of the University of Victoria. According to the researchers, this is associated with critical effects on animal populations. In contrast to predators, humans take the best and strongest individuals from the herd. This does not correspond to the natural selection that has so far shaped the development of animals and ecosystems.

The bottom line is that the researchers come to the conclusion: “Our efficient killing techniques, the global economic system and the focus on short-term profits have made humans a dangerous super predator. Our effects are just as extreme as our hunting behavior and the earth is now at the mercy of our predatory dominance, ”says Darimont. He and his colleagues see their study as an urgent appeal to humanity to take immediate measures for the sustainable use of the animal world. The scientists believe that we should orientate ourselves towards the behavior of the other predators on our planet.

Original work by the researchers:

© Wissenschaft.de - Martin Vieweg
20th August 2015