Healthy ecosystems require a full suite of species distributed across a hierarchy of levels on the food chain. If a link is removed, changes in the numbers and types of species will follow.
‘Mesopredator release’ is a phenomenon that occurs when top predators, such as wolves, cougars and bears, are removed from ecosystems. It allows smaller, mid-level predators to increase in numbers and consume prey at higher rates. This can lead to extreme reductions or even extinctions of species at lower levels on the food chain.
B.C.’s Gulf Islands Archipelago is an excellent place to study mesopredator release. As a PhD student at the University of Victoria working with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, biologist Justin Suraci is examining how the loss of wolves, cougars and bears has allowed smaller invasive predators, specifically raccoons, to flourish.
The original article was published in the Seaside Times October 2012 Issue.
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