Credit: University of Georgia
An exploratory study using fish carcasses as bait provides further evidence that wildlife is rich in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, the University of Georgia said.
A one-month camera study showed observation of 10 mammals and five bird species, James Beasley, Associate Professor at the Savannah Ecology Laboratory and Warnell Forest and Natural Resources School.
"These animals were photographed, destroying fish carcasses placed on the banks of rivers and canals CEZ," he said. "We've seen evidence of wildlife diversity in CEZ using our previous research, but this is the first time we've seen white eagles, American minks and otters in our cells."
Beasley refers to a 2015 study, which provided the first evidence that wildlife, including gray wolves, has about 1,000 square miles of this ecological zone left by people after the 1986 nuclear accident.
New results published in the magazine Food Networks, provides evidence that aquatic nutrient resources can flow to land landscapes and become accessible to both terrestrial and semi-artificial wildlife such as otters and mink.
Leading researcher Peter Schlichting (SREL) postdoctoral researcher said during his research that previous research reported that purification activity could connect different food networks, but scientists do not fully understand how it is going.
In this study, fish carcasses were placed on the open water side of the Pripyat River and nearby irrigation channels, imitating the natural activity that occurs when the currents transport the dead fish carcasses to shore, according to Schlichting, now a post-doctoral researcher. Arizona State University.
The results show that 98 percent of fish carcasses were consumed by many scavengers within one week.
"This is a high cleaning speed, and as all our carcasses are consumed in terrestrial or semi-aquatic species, it checks whether the movement of nutritional resources between water and terrestrial ecosystems is more frequent than often," said Beasley.
“We tend to think of fish and other aquatic animals living in the aquatic ecosystem. This study shows that if a sensible part of the dead fish makes it shore, it is a group of terrestrial and semi-aquatic species that transfer these water nutrients to the land landscape. ”
The team compared the activity of the diving in the river with scavenger activities in the channels, evaluating the parameters, including the percentage of carcasses and how fast they were consumed; the number of species shown; and how often each species was discovered.
The team found that the river's efficiency was higher because the limited shore coverage increased the visibility of the fish carcasses, making them easier to find. But as the team predicted, the wealth of the channels was higher.
"Many former agricultural areas of CEZ were irrigated using these small channels," said Beasley. "Most of them still hold water, but they are overgrown with vegetation, which provides coverage for wildlife, so they are used by a wider range of species."
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