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Bison belong to the woods, prefer open country, says paleontologist

Current efforts to rescue Europe's largest living members of the family Bovidae, European bison, it is necessary to reconsider. In the light of new knowledge shows that the idea půltunových ruminants living in the deep woods is misguided. Paleontologists from Poland and Germany on the extensive research of skeletal remains argue that bison gave before the forest prefer open country.

Discussion on how to properly save the last vanishing bison, roiled by a new study paleontologist Hervé Bocherense of Senckenbergova center for human evolution and paleoenvironment and the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Tübingen. Scientists had decided to examine the first preserved skeletal remains of bison and other large ruminants, elk, reindeer and polar aurochs, and based on the analysis of isotopes contained in the bones to determine the preferred habitat of these animals. Selecting a suitable location where to place reservation, is actually one of the fundamental steps each successful rescue program.

The result is not in the case of bison too pleasing. He points out that the bison are historically among finicky consumers of plant food that they like to complement diet mosses and lichens growing on trees in the forest, but most of the time spent in open spaces. The result is then a rescue attempt of the kind that a return to an environment that sought only marginally rather counterproductive and goes against his own intention to preserve the species. The findings come at a time when across European bookings can count about three thousand last aurochs, the vast majority of which is held just in forest reserves character.

"The time zubrům running out,"
says Bocherens. "In Germany, the last wild individual shot in 1775 and the last in Europe fell early hunters in 1927 in the Caucasus." By virtually extinct subspecies of both bison (lowland and mountain) in their natural range. In parallel with this, but started a series of emergency programs across European national parks and zoos, and launched a number of reintroduction programs. "With znovuvypouštěním bison began in those areas where it last as living still remember," says Rafal Kowalczyk from the Institute for Research mammals at the Polish National Park in Bialowezi. "But as evidenced by current research, analysis of nitrogen isotopes in the bones of bison 10-12 000 years old, bison les attended at least as often as the open prairie areas."

As further mention Kowalczyk and Bocherens, alternating forest and open steppe habitats provide zubrům evolutionary advantage against more specialized species - elk and hike, especially during hard winters. Along with climate change, warming and retreat open steppe habitats, and also with related human activities, bison were driven into the woods. "Here is their number decreased further, to the brink of complete extinction. One of the reasons was a significant lack of available food in the woods during the winter. "The key question by Polish and German paleontologists, therefore, is whether it is expedient to restore bison in European forests, or if it is not expedient whole concept of saving species rethought.

The fact that bison are typical inhabitants of the forest, how many decades thought to attention in the Czech environment for the first time domestic authors of the 2012 study, The Return of the European bison (Bison bonasus) in the Czech Republic. "Previously, the bison actually considered a kind of tied to closed temperate forests, but these ecosystems were probably only his last refuge. New findings clearly show that the aurochs inhabited a wide range of environments from the open steppe after participating deciduous and coniferous forests of Central and Eastern Europe, "says study co-author Miloslav Jirků Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Deep forests are therefore called for suboptimal habitat for bison, ie environment, where they were pushed by man. "In any case, it does not mean that the bison is not native to Europe. On the contrary, it is endemic and therefore does not occur anywhere else outside the European continent! Just prefers open landscape than that to which it subjects in the majority of existing projects repatriation planted, "says Miloslav Jirků.

Bison is not the only animal species where the phenomenon is pushed to suboptimal habitat showed. The situation is similar probably Przewalski horse, which was apparently a man pushed into the inhospitable conditions of the Gobi desert. Some current efforts to repatriation and Przewalski's horse, not pushed into the environment that best suits this kind, but the most extreme conditions, where its limits survived the last remnants shortly before extinction in the wild. Taxes for it was the death of a large part of the population repatriated during extremely harsh winters that sometimes afflict Gobi.

Article Author: Radomír Dohnal

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