in Bangor University Seminars

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Did Dis­ney get it all wrong? Pro­fes­sor Rus­sell Hill of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Durham claims that all envi­ron­ments are “Land­scapes of Fear”.

A  sem­i­nar by Ban­gor Uni­ver­si­ty brought to the front of my atten­tion the impor­tance of preda­tor-prey inter­ac­tions in an envi­ron­ment. Not only the sur­viv­abil­i­ty of a species but the impor­tant role these inter­ac­tions have on the social order of pri­mates.

To sup­port his claim, the Pro­fes­sor used exam­ples from his own research on Saman­go (arbo­re­al) and Vervet (ter­res­tri­al) mon­keys in the Spout­pans­berg moun­tain range, South Amer­i­ca.

To mea­sure fear his research focused on assess­ing the alarm calls they made. As shown in the Atten­bor­ough video, a call is unique and can vary between the type of preda­tor. In this study, the preda­tors include Leop­ards, Preda­to­ry rap­tors (Eagles) and Snakes.

To iden­ti­fy the spe­cif­ic calls, not only did they set up cam­eras to observe but the Pro­fes­sor was also work­ing in con­junc­tion with the Limpopo leop­ard project. This project had leop­ards of the area GPS tracked via col­lars so when an alarm call is made they can direct­ly cor­re­late a spe­cif­ic call to the leop­ard.

They found that the arbo­re­al Saman­go mon­keys had sig­nif­i­cant­ly raised alarm calls for eagles.

Where­as the ter­res­tri­al Vervets only raised sig­nif­i­cant alarm calls in the pres­ence of leop­ards. These dif­fer­ences are most like­ly attrib­uted to the envi­ron­ments their prey is more like­ly to be occu­py­ing.

How­ev­er, when faced with these threats, the pop­u­la­tions of mon­keys became vig­i­lant. Their vig­i­lance meant they spent less time feed­ing in their home ranges and more time “on the look out” for preda­tors to decrease chances of being sur­prised or eat­en.

Fear Can Regulate Feeding and Social Order

There­fore, the fear of a preda­tor that stim­u­lates the reac­tion of the prey can reg­u­late envi­ron­ments and the food avail­abil­i­ty but also reg­u­lates the order of, specif­i­cal­ly, pack or grouped prey in the habi­tat.

In my opin­ion, this field of research has a large range of dif­fer­ent uses and appli­ca­tions that we could use.

African Farm Protection

Chim­panzees and Cer­co­p­ithe­cus mon­keys in African coun­tries often raid farm­ing land for food and crops which can severe­ly dam­age the area’s income and increase the like­li­hood of famine and dis­ease (McGuin­ness and Tay­lor, 2014).

There­fore If we can dis­cov­er and record the alarm call of these mon­keys and repeat before they raid or from speak­ers near the crops, it should decrease or pre­vent the mon­keys from feed­ing.

Animal Reserves

If we look into con­ser­va­tion fur­ther, in my opin­ion, fur­ther appli­ca­tions of these find­ings could include the use in ani­mal reserves to decrease poach­ing effects.

Some poach­ers tar­get pri­mates for; fur, pets and food. To pos­si­bly decrease the chances of the poach­ers being suc­cess­ful play­ing a spe­cif­ic alarm call could make the pri­mates more vig­i­lant to any move­ment towards them. There­fore, decreas­ing the suc­cess­ful­ness of poach­ers catch­ing their tar­get species.

To pos­si­bly decrease the chances of the poach­ers being suc­cess­ful play­ing a spe­cif­ic alarm call could make the pri­mates more vig­i­lant to any move­ment towards them. There­fore, decreas­ing the suc­cess­ful­ness of poach­ers catch­ing their tar­get species.

There­fore, decreas­ing the suc­cess­ful­ness of poach­ers catch­ing their tar­get species.

Disney Got It Wrong?

Yes, it would appear that it is not the Cir­cle of Life but instead the Cir­cle of Fear that keeps our envi­ron­ments in bal­ance. Fear is thus one of the most pri­ma­ry and basic func­tions all organ­isms need.

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