Tag Archives: lion

The Ecology of The Lion King (With Lion Specialist Maria Gatta)

Image Credit: Wade Tregaskis, CC BY-NC 2.0, Image Cropped.

If there’s one film that I could perhaps credit for sparking my fascination with the natural world, the it’s The Land Before Time. BUT if we’re going with films that do not feature the most gangly Pachycephalosaurids you ever did see, then it has to be The Lion King. The sweeping landscapes, the (at times literal) fountains of species, the Shakespearian drama, the poor understanding of trophic cascades – it’s got it all.

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Elephant in the Alps, Hippos in the Highlands: Rewilding Europe with Jens-Christian Svenning

Image Credit: Benh Lieu Song, CC BY-SA 2.0, Image Cropped

We tend to think of the concept of large herbivores roaming freely around Europe as a notion confined to the ancient past. Yet in geological terms, huge herbivores and their associated carnivores were widespread on the European continent only a short time ago. With many ecosystems badly degraded, the idea of restoring ecological processes and enhancing biodiversity by reintroducing everything from bisons to elephants has been tossed around more and more.

But how do the reintroduction of these species help European ecosystems? To learn more about the phenomena, I spoke to Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, who has spoken extensively about the advantages of bringing large herbivores and carnivores back to the European mainland. We discussed what rewilding means, some recent success stories, and why living with megafauna in Europe is no harder than in any other part of the world.

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Risk it for the Biscuit

Environmental controls on African herbivore responses to landscapes of fear (2021) Davies et al., Oikos. https://doi: 10.1111/oik.07559

Image Credit: Olga Ernst, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped

The Crux

Despite the incredible variation seen in nature when it comes to flora and fauna, it always seems like the two types that most people know are predators and prey. Prey animals being those that eat plants (or other animals), and the predators being those that eat those prey animals. Because prey animals must not only eat food, but try to avoid becoming food for something else, they must always be on the lookout. This watchfulness and awareness is what creates a “landscape of fear” (See Did You Know?), but variation is inherent to the natural world, and there are likely many things that prey animals consider when they pick where they decide to forage. Today’s authors wanted to investigate what factors influence the prey animals choice of foraging areas, and if that selection varies with the environment during the dry season when there isn’t much food available.

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10 Great (And Not-So Great) Social Distancers of the Animal Kingdom

In the time of a global crisis like the one we’re in now, it’s more important than ever that we pay attention to what scientists are saying.

However, my colleagues and I are ecologists, and as such don’t really have as much practical advice for you as epidemiologists and sociologists do right now. All we can really say is stay at home, and practice physical distancing (NOT social distancing, we need each other more than ever right now).

However not all species have the comfort of being social without being close to each other. So in the name of providing some entertainment in difficult times, I gathered a bunch of colleagues together to figure out how some of their study organisms would cope if the need to socially distance was imposed on them.

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Mermaid Sex, Evil Spirit Birds and More Weird Ecology Search Terms

Image Credit: Ray Bilcliff, Pexels licence, Image Cropped

We get a lot of fun and strange search terms which lead people to Ecology for the Masses. So inspired by Captain Awkward’s segment ‘It Came From the Search Terms‘, let’s have a look at some of the weirder questions that led people to this site and see if we can provide some answers. Spelling mistakes have been corrected.

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Lessons From The Lion King

Image Credit: Raymond Santi, CC BY 4.0

After Disney nailed The Jungle Book three years ago (by giving it an actual plot) and made almost a billion USD, it was inevitable that The Lion King was next in big-budget almost-entirely-animal-based Disney capers (I’m guessing the Aristocats is next up). And thus, the Circle of Massive Corporate Cashgrabs┬áLife was completed this summer. Whether you liked it or not, you can’t deny that it was a movie that was made and that at least one child somewhere saw.

So, let’s have a look at it from an ecologist’s perspective.

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