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2013 Research Grant Recipient

Devin Roberts, University of Victoria
Predator naiveté in island mesopredators

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Photos: Michael Clinchy

Fear of top predators causes middle predators, such as raccoons, to catch fewer prey. However, this fear should be lost when top predators are absent. Devin Roberts’s research in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands demonstrates that there is a loss of fear in raccoons now that all top predators (cougars and wolves) are absent, in some cases for close to a century. Fearless raccoons may increase their impact on the ecosystem by reducing the abundance and diversity of their prey. 

This study is important because it will provide documentation that this phenomenon is occurring on British Columbia’s coastal islands. More research is needed to document the extent of the impact on island ecosystems by middle predators.     


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