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Animals Are Losing Their Vagility, or Ability to Roam Freely

JIM ROBBINS: ‘Room to move is critical for a wide range of species, but it has long been difficult for researchers to capture where and when they travel. But a new and growing field called “movement ecology” is casting light on the secretive movements of wildlife and how those habits are changing. A global study of 57 species of mammals, published in the journal Science, has found that wildlife move far less in landscapes that have been altered by humans, a finding that could have implications for a range of issues, from how well natural systems function to finding ways to protect migratory species…

Using the GPS collars that updated an animal’s location regularly and other data, the project found that vagility — the ability of an organism to move — declines in areas with human footprints by as much as half to two-thirds the distance than in places where there is little or no human activity. “It is important that animals move, because in moving they carry out important ecological functions like transporting nutrients and seeds between different areas,” said Marlee Tucker, a biologist at Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center and Goethe University, Frankfurt and the study’s lead author. The ability to move and find food helps keep some imperiled species viable’. SOURCE…

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