Email Print Share

"Habitatual" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 641-552-8180 on any telephone.

A number of large predators, including alligators, mountain lions and killer whales, have found their way into novel habitats once considered outside their climatic zones, and conservation efforts could be the reason why. Researchers found that these predators may now be as abundant or more abundant in these novel habitats than in their traditional ones.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

"Predator" -- the sequel.

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: news teletype sound in bg) Alligator spotted on beach! Killer whale swims upriver! Mountain lion living out on the plains!! A new study led by Duke University just might change the way you think about large predatory animals' habitats and where they're supposed to be.

(Sound effect: swamp) Conventional wisdom puts the 'gators in the swamp (Sound effect: ocean), the whales in the oceans and if you're a mountain lion, (Sound effect: mountain lion roar) you should live in the hills. The new study challenges those perceptions basically because most of that thinking came after humans had already pushed those species into those hard-to-reach refuges -- not because those species were specialists in those habitats.

The researchers say if you throw back to before that time, animals were living in all sorts of unexpected places. They tell us modern conservation efforts have brought them back in sufficient numbers -- they're naturally surviving under very diverse conditions, just like the old days.

The work was the synthesis of recent scientific studies and government data that found that several large predator species are about as abundant in "novel" habitats as their supposed "regular" stomping grounds. The team's findings reinforce the idea that introducing beneficial predators into non-traditional habitats could help restore ecological balance.

So, the next time a 'gator appears and seems to be out of place, just ask yourself, (Sound effect: 'gator growl) who was there first? (Sound effect: alligator hiss)

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

Also Available:
Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (66.6 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.