The rise of the mesopredator

TitleThe rise of the mesopredator
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsPrugh L.R., Stoner C.J., Epps C.W., Bean W.T., Ripple W.J., Laliberte, Andrea S., Brashares J.S.
Date PublishedOctober 2009
ARIS Log Number239330
Keywordsapex, journal, mesopredator, predators
AbstractApex predators have experienced catastrophic declines throughout the world due to human persecution and habitat loss. These collapses in top predator populations are commonly associated with dramatic increases in the abundance of smaller predators. Known as ‘mesopredator release,’ this trophic interaction has been recorded across a range of communities and ecosystems. Mesopredator outbreaks often lead to declining prey populations, sometimes destabilizing communities and driving local extinctions. We present an overview of mesopredator release and illustrate how its underlying concepts can be used to improve predator management in an increasingly fragmented world. We also examine shifts in North American carnivore ranges during the past 200 years and show that 60% of mesopredator ranges have expanded, whereas all apex predator ranges have contracted. Understanding how best to predict and manage mesopredator release has become urgent as mesopredator outbreaks increasingly result in high ecological, economic, and social costs around the world.