General Article Trophy hunting may cause extinction in a changing environment

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Trophy hunting and other activities involving the targeting of high-quality male animals could lead to the extinction of certain species faced with changing environmental conditions, according to new research from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Male animals with large secondary sexual traits, such as antelope horns, deer antlers and lions’ manes are often targeted by hunters for recreational purposes. Similarly, some insect collectors will pay high prices for specimens of animals such as stag beetles because of their large secondary sexual traits.  

These well-ornamented individuals tend to be the most evolutionarily fit so if they are removed then the best genes are taken out of the population. The researchers predict that in some circumstances, when an animal population is faced with a changing environment, harvesting rates of as low as five per cent of these high quality males can cause extinction.

The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological...

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