About the human shield effect
- In recent decades, increasing urbanization has led to ever more non-domesticated animals living in closer proximity to humans.
- Mesopredators, which include medium-sized carnivorous species, tend to move into human-dominated areas to avoid predation by larger carnivores. This is known as the human shield effect.
- The human shield effect has been observed in a variety of animals, including samango monkeys, zebras, and moose.
- Although this behavior of mesopredators leads to a reduction in mortality from large predators, it increases mortality from human activity.
- Humans can present many dangers, intentional and unintentional, which include poaching, trapping, and destruction of habitat.
Why in News?
- A recent study revealed that the human-shield effect can be lethal to mesopredators because of increasing threats posed by anthropogenic activities.
- Researchers explained that mesopredator behavior is antithetical because the behavior which leads to a reduction in mortality from large predators increases mortality from human activity.
- Mesopredators are a group of animals that occupy the middle level in the food chain, between top predators and their prey.
- They are typically medium-sized carnivores that feed on smaller animals but are themselves preyed upon by larger predators.
- They play an important role in regulating the populations of their prey species and can have cascading effects on ecosystem dynamics.
- Mesopredators include foxes, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, etc.