Carrion-eating “scavengers” play an important role in rapidly removing animal carcasses, which are sources of harmful pathogens, from ecosystems.

 Among them, vultures are known for their excellent ability to find corpses and are the main scavengers that find and consume corpses the earliest, but vultures do not inhabit Japan.Therefore, it was not clear what animal species found and consumed animal carcasses in Japan, and how long it would take for them to disappear.

 Therefore, this time, an international joint research team from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and the University of Illinois in the United States set up deer carcasses in Japanese forests and investigated the animals that found the carcasses, the time the carcasses were found and disappeared, and the factors that affect them. verified.

 As a result, 88.6% of the deer carcasses in the forest were first discovered by mammals, and raccoon dogs found the deer carcasses the earliest with an average discovery time of 3.3 days.In addition, mammals found deer carcasses earlier at higher temperatures.This is thought to be because the warmer the temperature, the faster the rotting progresses and the more the rotten odor spreads, making it easier for mammals with a keen sense of smell to find the corpse earlier.

 The deer carcasses disappeared in an average of 7 days, which is not much different from overseas where vultures live.Despite the absence of specialized scavengers such as vultures, Japanese forests maintain a sufficiently high carcass removal capacity to provide healthy ecosystem services. be able to.It was also found that the higher the temperature, the shorter the carcass disappearance time, possibly due to the increased activity of invertebrates (mainly maggots) that eat carrion.

 This study clarified the patterns of discovery and disappearance of deer carcasses, mainly mammals, in forest ecosystems in Japan.Many unresolved issues remain in the complex relationships between organisms that arise from animal corpses, and it is hoped that such research will advance the elucidation of the role of scavengers in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Paper information:[Scientific Reports] Carcass detection and consumption by facultative scavengers in forest ecosystem highlights the value of their ecosystem services

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