Prof. Ryan Norris

A U of G study examining how fear alone may be enough to cause vulnerable species to go extinct was featured in The Atlantic.

Prof. Ryan Norris discovered that the mere smell of a predator affects the reproductive success of fruit flies. Flies exposed to the scent spent more time looking out for predators and less time feeding, which influenced their condition and mating success. The integrative biology professor also found a greater effect of predator fear on smaller populations, with implications for endangered species.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study involved exposing fruit fly populations of various sizes to the scent of praying mantises, a natural predator. The researchers determined effects on reproductive success by counting and weighing fly offspring.