Social or Stinky? How Animal Defenses Evolve

Social or Stinky? How Animal Defenses Evolve


Mammals really avoid trying to kill
skunks because they’re such effective sprayers so having a weapon that would be very
potent for your predator and would be valuable at close-range
would be a very valuable weapon to have for a nocturnal animal like a striped skunk. In this study we were
interested in why some animals have evolved noxious spray
defenses and others have evolved highly social group formations. What we
found was that species that are under high potential predation risk from other mammals especially at
nighttime tend to evolve noxious spray defenses like a striped
skunk would and other species that are under
greater predation risk from birds of prey especially during the daytime tend to
evolve highly evolved social groups that are stable over long
periods of time so the results of this research not only allows to explain why
some species spray like a skunk does or are social
like a meerkat is, but also be able to predict where and
when we might see other types of anti-predator defenses in
mammals. We’re already looking at what species have spines and quills and body
armor and predicting variation in those
species as well, but we’re also looking at other types of anti-predator behaviors across the mammals; why some species might be nocturnal or
diurnal; why some might live in trees and some might live under
the ground. These estimates really allow us to ask a whole slew of questions
across different types of groups and use them to predict other types of
morphologies as well and we’re hoping to expand on that the
future.

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