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Worried About Predator Attacks? Stay Away From The Equator

A new study finds prey is more likely to be eaten if it's closer to the equator.
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Worried About Predator Attacks? Stay Away From The Equator

The tropics are host to exotic animals and vibrant plants, but the region is also a hot spot for predator attacks in the animal kingdom.

According to a new study, prey is more likely to be eaten if it's closer to the equator.

Scientists glued "dummy caterpillars" to plants across a 7,000-mile area, from the Arctic Circle to Southern Australia. They revisited the fake animals several times to check for attack marks from predators, like birds and ants.

The team found for every degree of latitude away from the equator, a caterpillar's odds of being attacked decreased 2.7 percent.

The researchers said these findings are important for understanding how caterpillars and other herbivores evolve. For example, caterpillars closer to the poles might not need to evolve the same defenses or camouflage as those near the equator.

They also said the research suggests just how important herbivore predators are for keeping the world green, especially near the equator. Without them, hordes of caterpillars would be eating away at Earth's plant life.