How fear alone can cause animal extinction

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“It has been something of a mystery why predators are so important in animal extinctions,” says Kyle Elliott, an assistant professor in McGill University’s Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences and the first author of a recent study on the subject published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “As prey populations decline, predators should simply switch to other prey. However, if, as we showed, the scent is sufficient to continue population decline, then even if the predators move on to other prey, and their scent disappears, this is unimportant for the survival of the population that is at risk whose numbers and reproductive ability have been critically affected by the passing smell of death.”

Read more in the McGill Newsoom