Forming groups makes sense ecologically

The National Science Foundation, October 24, 2007, reports that scientists have found that being social and forming groups is a powerful protection against prey extinction.


Photo Credit: Craig Packer, University of Minnesota

The researchers used data on lions and wildebeest in Africa's Serengeti Plain, data on lion hunting behavior and success and their censuses of wildebeest and other herbivore herds in the same area.

Social grouping by both wildebeest and lions was more strongly correlated with the long-term stability, or sustainability, of the ecosystem than no grouping or grouping of either species alone.

"Traditional ecological models have erroneously predicted that predators would inevitably over-exploit their prey, leading to frequent population crashes. But most highly vulnerable prey species form herds, swarms, schools or flocks, and group living reduces predators' efficiency to the point where co-existence is likely to be the rule rather than the exception."

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Thanks to Roland Harwood at NESTA for spotting this post originally on Cooperation Commons.

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