Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fascinating, sad impact of hunting on wildlife evolution

Trophy hunting is forcing some species of animals to shrink and reproduce at a younger age, reports National Geographic. It makes sense, hunters take the biggest, fittest creatures, so all that are left to reproduce are smaller animals that reproduce at younger ages.

And it's happening fast. "Rates of evolution in harvested organisms occurred 300 percent faster than in natural systems." In just three decades, the body size of bighorn sheep has declined 20 percent.

So? Animals have been hunted by predators forever, right? Yes. But natural predators typically only 10 percent of, say, some fish species. But humans take 70 percent. That can't go on forever.

(Photo by
Joe Mabel)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.