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Study: Prey Emit Warning Cues to Predators

May 29, 2015

SCBI's Paul Weldon and University of Tennessee at Knoxville professor Gordon Burghardt propose that conspicuous organisms arise when predator and prey populations interact. Conspicuous prey organisms are favored when predators, by chance, recognize and avoid their novel appearance. Organisms that are not distinguished by conspicuous features are attacked and perish. The mechanism they propose for this is called concurrent reciprocal selection because both the innate avoidance behavior of predators and the novel prey cues to which predators are averse appear coincidentally. In contrast to the traditional view of warning signals perceived visually, these researchers point to auditory, chemical and other types of prey signals to divert predators.

Recent News

SCBI Studies Show Habitat Fragmentation Affects Gene Flow in India’s Leopard and Tiger Populations

July 31, 2013

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists analyzed the genes of these great cats in the Satpura-Maikal landscape—a 15,000 square kilometers area composed of four interconnected reserves: Kanha, Satpura, Melghat and Pench. From April-June 2009 and November 2009-May 2010, they collected scat (fecal matter) and hair samples for DNA analysis. This data, combined with India’s forest ecology history, enabled SCBI scientists to construct a definitive picture of how habitat loss affects the genetic diversity and gene flow of cat populations. Published in Evolutionary Applications and Proceedings of the Royal Society B, their research demonstrates that an intact forest corridor is vital for maintaining gene flow in these great cats.

Study Finds Baby Marmosets More Likely to Become Obese if Transition to Solid Food Faster

April 10, 2013

Companion study finds young obese monkeys more likely to have pancreas problems.

New Genetics Research on Leopards and Tigers in India Underscores the Importance of Protecting Forest Corridors

January 14, 2013

As rapid economic expansion continues to shape the Asian landscape on which many species depend, time is running out for conservationists aiming to save wildlife such as tigers and leopards. Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have used genetic analysis to find that the natural forest corridors in India are essential to ensuring a future for these species. According to two studies recently published in two papers, these corridors are successfully connecting populations of tigers and leopards to ensure genetic diversity and gene flow.

Relocating Elephants Fails to Decrease Human–Wildlife Conflict

December 10, 2012

Human–elephant conflict in Sri Lanka kills more than 70 humans and 200 Asian elephants every year.

SCBI Scientists Find That Humans Alter Animal Distribution on the Appalachian Trail

November 2, 2012

Every year more than 4 million people enjoy the popular Appalachian Trail, which extends from Maine to Georgia and is surrounded by forests as well as agricultural and residential development. However, just as humans depend on the land, so, too, does the native wildlife.

An SCBI Scientist Discovers a ''Butterfly Effect'' on Population Modeling

September 27, 2012

ologist from SCBI's Conservation Ecology Center uncovers flaws in the methods scientists use to estimate butterfly populations, with important ramifications for wildlife conservation.

Infrastructure Supporting National Parks May Provide Poachers Easier Access to Wildlife

May 11, 2012

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists publish new study based on camera-trap images of poachers in Thai park.

Smithsonian Researchers Use Non-Invasive Techniques to Look at Genetic Diversity in Leopards from a Distance

April 18, 2012

Researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have spent years developing genetic techniques that use more easily acquired samples, and their latest success uses scat, or feces, collected from wild leopards living in the highlands of India.

Smithsonian Scientist Uses Innovative Method to Predict How Forests Will Change Over Time

April 6, 2012

In a paper published in this month’s issue of BioScience, a scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute explores the potential of a creative technique to look toward the future of forests.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Publishes Two Significant Panda Studies

April 4, 2012

Two new research papers by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists and partners will help conservation biologists make strides in saving the fewer than 1,600 giant pandas left in the mountain forests of central China.