A new study has found that large predators are more at risk of being adversely affected by environmental change, such as over-hunting and habitat change, because compared to smaller animals they have to work harder to find their next meal.
The scientists from Durham University and the Zoological Society of London published their research in the journal Biology Letters, noting that larger species like lions, tigers and polar bears, had suffered greater declines in population due to diminishing food supplies than smaller animals like the weasel or the badger.
“We found that the largest species exhibited a five to six fold greater decrease in relative abundance in response to a decrease in their prey,” said Dr Philip Stephens, from the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University.
“It’s hard work being a large predator roaming and hunting across extensive areas to find food. The apparent vulnerability of tigers and polar bears to reductions in the availability of prey may be linked to the energetic costs of being a large carnivore.”