Feeding in a human-dominated world

01 November 2017 - By: Kim Birnie-Gauvin

Feeding in a human-dominated world

Nutritional physiology and ecology of wildlife in a changing world


Birnie-Gauvin K, Peiman KS, Raubenheimer D, Cooke SJ (2017). Conservation Physiology 5, cox030. https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cox030

In order to properly inform conservation measures and management approaches for wildlife, we must have a clear understanding of the extent to which animals are impacted by anthropogenic factors. Humans now dominate the world, with widespread and far-reaching consequences for many aspects of the animal kingdom. Wildlife nutrition is linked to both ecological (e.g. food availability) and physiological (e.g. ability to digest food) factors, which have been significantly altered as a consequence of human presence. Birnie- Gauvin et al. (2017) investigated the extent and consequences of nutritional modifications resulting from climate change, pollution, habitat alterations, invasive species, anthropogenic disturbances and human-provisioned food items. Their findings suggest that wildlife nutrition, in terms of both quantity and quality, is most affected by pollution and human provisioned food, though all anthropogenic  factors contribute to nutritional changes. The authors also suggest that these changes in nutritional physiology and ecology may have carry-over effects to other aspects of animal life histories such as reproduction, growth and survival, which may have important repercussions for population dynamics and even evolution through trait intake and assimilation as well as behavioral phenotypes. Birnie-Gauvin and her team (2017) emphasize the need to understand the long-term consequences of nutritional alterations for wildlife, especially as it pertains to conservation both in situ and ex situ.

By Kim Birnie-Gauvin, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Denmark

Category: Conservation Physiology