Have you ever wondered what roles carnivores and herbivores play in their environment?
When they work in harmony together, they keep their environment healthy through the different roles they fulfill.
What Benefit Do Herbivores Provide?
Herbivores eat plants and so help stop vegetation from growing out of control.1 When plants are allowed to grow without anything keeping them in check, the number of insects in that area increases. Studies done with elephants and zebras have shown this.2
What Benefit Do Carnivores Provide?
Just like how herbivores keep plants from overgrowing, carnivores keep herbivores from overgrazing. When herbivores don’t have carnivores around to keep them in check, they can wreak havoc on the vegetation in their habitat. This is because they aren’t forced to travel to stay away from their predators – so they stay in an area longer and continue to graze. The problem with that is that the plant life doesn’t get a chance to recover since it’s constantly being eaten.3
Herbivores and Carnivores Keep Balance
Carnivores and herbivores affect each other beyond their roles in keeping their environment healthy. They influence each other in the long term due to their predator/prey dynamic. Since carnivores hunt herbivores and herbivores, to survive, need to flee from carnivores, over time they each have forced each other to get better at both of those things. Through evolution, carnivores have developed better traits to take down their prey, and herbivores have developed characteristics that make escape easier.4
Did you catch our blog post on How Birds Attract Mates? Read it here!