McGill researchers were looking for a relation between predators and the prey across a range of ecosystems around the globe. McGill researchers discovered a law between predator and prey and it seemed to be consistent across an array of a different ecosystem.
Considering the proportion of predators that prey across dozens of the park in East and South Africa, the numbers of lions are less according to researcher Ian Hatton. The parks were swarming with potential meals for the Lions. So it is logical for the lions in the park to increase proportionally to the available prey. However, what Hatton, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University along with his team of researchers discovered was, in a crowded setting, the prey reproduced less than what they did in situations where their numbers were smaller. The same pattern was discovered in a range of ecosystems
The findings hint a level of organizational structure and function in ecosystems never known before. Biologists have learnt that laws governing functions in the body like metabolism and growth are very regular and mathematical; no research has shown that similar kind of laws could exist in ecosystems globally.
Hatton, the lead authors of the study in Science, reminiscences his schooling days on Zimbabwe and how he spent his vacations in the national parks there. When Hatton was doing his Ph.D. at McGill, he wanted to go back and compare the African animals across protected ecosystems and try to find a relation between the number of carnivores and the herbivore preys at the scale of whole landscapes. Hatton gathered all the animal census data he could obtain for parks in the east and southern Africa. Collating all the data, Hatton and his fellow researchers found a very unexpected and regular pattern. The pattern was consistent, and a relationship of predator to prey was seen in every park.
Hatton explained that until now it was believed that lots of prey will lead to increasing in some predators. What Hutton and his team discovered was quite the opposite. In the most thriving ecosystem, the ratio of predator to the prey was greatly reduced. Greater crowding leads to the prey species having fewer offspring for each. The prey’s rate of reproduction is limited and this in turn limits the abundance of predators.