Scientists were absolutely floored at what happened when they decided to attach fake caterpillars to leaves.
An astonishing new study published in the journal Science examined what happened when scientists glued fake caterpillars to leaves, and the results were quite extraordinary. The study was to figure out how much risk caterpillars faced of getting eaten depending on where they were in the world.
The scientists then took these fake caterpillars and examined the bite marks on them to figure out if they were attacked by a slug, lizard, bird, or other creature. They found that a caterpillar was a whopping eight times more likely to be eaten at the equator than close to one of the poles, the paper says.
Scientists deployed nearly 3,000 dummy caterpillars in 31 sites, ranging from the Arctic Circle to southern Australia. In addition to location, they also found that caterpillars faced greater risk at lower elevations.
“What was most fascinating was that the pattern was not only mirrored on both sides of the Equator, but also appeared across elevational gradients,” says Tomas Roslin, who led the analyses, in a statement from the Swedish Research Council. “Moving up a mountain slope, you find the same decrease in predation risk as when moving towards the poles. This suggests a common driver could be controlling species interactions at a global scale.”