WCS 3-Sentence Science

Carrion Crisis: There’s a Major Decline in Scavengers

June 14, 2019

Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present the work by the WCS’s James Watson on the implications of scavenger species loss:

  1. Many scavenger species are in a state of rapid decline and there is growing evidence these declines can drastically alter ecological food webs.
  2. Researchers looked at evidence supporting the increase in “mesoscavengers” — those less-efficient scavengers occupying mid-trophic levels — and increase in carrion in the face of declining apex scavengers.
  3. The authors further examine the ecological and human well-being implications of apex scavenger decline, including carrion removal and disease regulation services.

Study and Journal: “The mesoscavenger release hypothesis and implications for ecosystem and human well-being” from Ecology Letters 
WCS Co-Author(s): James Watson, Director WCS Science and Research Initiative

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.