Herbivorous vertebrates suffer from a person stronger than omnivores and carnivores. To such conclusion the team of scientists, analyzing the environmental status of more than 22000 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. It turned out that herbivores of all three classes face increased risk of extinction in most regions and ecosystems. An additional risk factor was the large size. Vulnerable herbivores and the important role they perform in the ecosystem needs to attract more attention to their security, say the authors of the research article for the journal Science Advances.
According to the traditional view, predatory vertebrates suffer from human activities is stronger than herbivores. This idea seems logical, after all, predators are at the top of the food chain and suffer the consequences of any changes that occur on its lower levels. In addition, they multiply quite slowly and are often in conflict with people.
However, the hypothesis about the special vulnerability of predators is not enough solid evidence. To confirm or refute it, a team of researchers led by Trisha Atwood (Trisha B. Atwood) from the University of Utah analyzed the security status 22166 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, among which were the predators, omnivorous and herbivorous species. Data were obtained from the lists of the International Union for conservation of nature (IUCN).
To the surprise of scientists, the most vulnerable ecological group of terrestrial vertebrates were not predators, and herbivores: the lists of endangered got 25 percent of their species. The proportion of threatened species among the omnivores and predators below. A more thorough analysis of the diet showed that among herbivores are the worst feel consumers fruit and green parts of plants, and among the predators are scavengers and fishers.
The authors then separately assessed the risk of extinction for reptiles, birds and mammals. In all three classes, the proportion of threatened species among herbivores was higher than among omnivores and carnivores. Especially troubling situation in herbivorous reptiles in distress are 52 percent of them. Primarily this is due to the reduction in numbers of many species of terrestrial turtles.