Wildlife is proliferating in abundance in the area prohibited by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, according to a new study with cameras that used fish viscera as bait.
Researchers of the University of Georgia They spotted ten species of mammals and five of birds during their one-month photographic hunting studio.
"These animals were photographed while collecting the corpses of fish located on the coast of rivers and channels in the CEZ (the Exclusion Zone), "said James Beasley, professor of ecology and author of the study." We had seen evidence of a diversity of wildlife in the CEZ through our previous research, but this is the first Once we see white-tailed eagles, American mink and river otter in our cameras. "
Beasley refers to a 2015 study that provided the first evidence that wildlife, including gray wolves, exists in abundance in this ecological zone of approximately 1,500 square kilometers that humans abandoned after the nuclear accident of 1986.
The new results, published in the journal Food Webs, provide evidence that aquatic nutrient resources can flow into landscapes and be available to terrestrial and semi-aquatic wildlife, such as otters and mink.
The principal investigator, Peter Schlichting, He said in a statement that previous studies reported that waste collection activity can connect several food webs, but scientists do not fully understand how this happens.
In the current study, fish tanks were placed on the edge of the open water in the Pripyat River and in nearby irrigation canals, mimicking the natural activity that occurs when streams transport dead fish carcasses to the coast, according to Schlichting, now associate of postdoctoral research at Arizona State University.
The results show that 98 percent of the fish carcasses were consumed in a week by a multitude of scavengers.
"This is a high collection rate, and since all of our were consumed by terrestrial or semi-aquatic species, it verifies that the movement of nutritional resources between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems occurs more frequently than is often recognized" said Beasley.
"We tend to think that fish and other aquatic animals remain in the aquatic ecosystem." This research shows that if a reasonable proportion of dead fish reaches the shore, there is a whole group of species terrestrial and semi-aquatic that transfer those aquatic nutrients to the terrestrial landscape. "
The team compared the activity of the scavenger in the river with the activity of the scavenger in the channels, evaluating the parameters that include the percentage of corpses consumed and the speed with which they were consumed; the number of species that appeared; Y how often each species was detected.
The team found that the scavenger's efficiency was greater in the river because the limited coverage of the coast increased the visibility of the fish channels, which made them easier to find. But, as the team predicted, the wealth was greater in the channels.
"Many previous agricultural areas within the CEZ were irrigated through the use of these small canals," said Beasley. "Most of them still have water, but they are covered vegetation that provides coverage for wildlife, so they are used by a wide range of species. "