Authors: Thomas M Newsome, Peter J S Fleming, Christopher R Dickman, Tim S Doherty, William J Ripple, Euan G Ritchie, and Aaron J Wirsing
Published in: BioScience (early view)
We are in the middle of a period of rapid and substantial environmental change. One impact of this upheaval is increasing contact between humans and other animals, including wildlife that take advantage of anthropogenic foods. As a result of increased interaction, the evolution and function of many species may be altered through time via processes including domestication and hybridization, potentially leading to speciation events.
We discuss the ecological and management importance of such possibilities, using gray wolves and other large carnivores as case studies.
We identify five main ways that carnivores might be affected: changes to social structures, behavior and movement patterns, changes in survivorship across wild- to human-dominated environments, evolutionary divergence, and potential speciation.
As the human population continues to grow and urban areas expand while some large carnivore species reoccupy parts of their former distributions, there will be important implications for human welfare and conservation policy.