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Mothers' Appetites Prevents Wild Animal Groups From Extinction

First Posted: Jan 12, 2016 09:03 AM EST

Researchers found that the eating habits of mothers plays a major role in keeping wild animal populations steady, according to a study at the University of Edinburgh. The study focused on how a mother's appetite impacts the appetites of their offspring and how it protects animals during times of population boom.

"How much a mother eats presets the appetite of her offspring," Dr. Tom Little, lead author of the study, said in a news release. "This effect seems to help keep populations of wild animals stable, and may help them avoid extinction."

The researchers claimed that previous scientific studies have predicted that "populations should swell until they are too big." However, the point there their numbers have collapsed has not been validated in wild, according to the researchers.

The study found that the connection between mothers' appetites and the appetite of their offspring allows populations to survive during lean times. Mothers tend to eat less during harsh conditions, as a result, they have less hungry offspring, which makes it more likely for the population to survive.

The researchers created a mathematical computer model to help them have a better understanding of how this affects the size of a population. They found that under these circumstances, population size remained stable instead of collapsing. They concluded that the mothers' appetite prevents a species from becoming extinct.  

The findings of this study were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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