Would non-human carnivores be able to survive on farmed foods?

Would non-human carnivores be able to survive on farmed foods?

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Certain creatures that are considered carnivores are non-obligate carnivores and are technically omnivores (such as wolves/dogs). How different is the potential digestive ability of these species compared to humans? If they theoretically developed sapience and the intelligence for agriculture, would they be able to survive on the same wide variety of plant foods that we do (i.e. could wolves survive on wheat, rice, etc)

The foods people in the developed world typically feed their carnivorous pets (including dogs and cats) are not made primarily from meat. Instead, they are made from plants, specifically grains, such as corn, rice and wheat.

In order to get our pets to eat foods that are so different from the meat-rich diets of their ancestors, we add flavors to the food.

Check out this episode on the making of pet foods from the television series "How Its Made",

So, to answer your question directly-- yes, in places like the USA, domestic dogs and cats are already living on a diet that is almost entirely plant-based.

Do non-human animals have rights?

Those people are dumb --->
God created animals, of course. However, humans are to survive by eating animals only when needed. They do not have a voice, so therefore, we are their voice. If you were in their shoes, how would you feel? Would you be happy to say that "Oh I have no rights so do as you please?" NO, I doubt that would be the case. There are so many unnecessary pains that animals have to feel. What are their benefits from this useless suffering? Humans seem to be the animal in my case. Humans use animals as test subjects for their own purposes. Like I said, God did put the animals on Earth for us humans, however, he did not say that we should slaughter each and every one of them. For a human to survive, do we really need animal fur or skins for a fur coat or any other clothing? Humans are selfish creatures.

Joanna Lambert on Carnivore Conservation & Coexistence

Project Coyote welcomes its newest Science Advisory Board member, Joanna Lambert!

A lover and observer of the wild since she was a child, Joanna has enlightened and energized her students at numerous universities across the United States, and is currently a professor in the Program in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Among other accomplishments and honors, she holds advisory positions with the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and the United Nations Environment Programme, co-founded the Northwest Primate Conservation Society, and currently serves on the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Joanna has recently written about the effects of the pandemic and lockdown on both humans and wildlife—read more here and here, and watch a video of Joanna speaking about the issue here.

We are honored and proud to have Joanna on our team, and I hope you enjoy reading our interview below about her current research with coyotes and her thoughts about carnivore conservation, recovery, and coexistence.

Note: Joanna Lambert will be presenting a webinar on October 7 exploring “Fear, Wild Things, and Coexisting with Predators”—register here. We hope you can join us!

Camilla: Can you share a bit about your background and how you came to advocate on behalf of North America’s wild carnivores?

Anybody who has their eyes open knows we are losing habitat, species, and overall ecological integrity at every scale – from our own backyards to landscapes across the planet. This has left many with a profound sense of loss – something that has been called “ecological grief”. In a Guardian article published in October 2014, Jo Confino posed a question: “Why aren’t we on the floor doubled up in pain at our capacity for industrial scale genocide of the world’s species?”

I am bringing up ecological grief because it helps me to understand my own narrative as a scientist and how I came to advocate on behalf of North American carnivores. I am a field ecologist and conservation biologist. My research takes me to Yellowstone National Park as well as to equatorial Africa where for 30 years I have observed extraordinary loss to biodiversity that has consequences not only for plants, animals, and habitats but also human quality of life. I return to Africa regularly, noting dramatic change from only a few months or years prior: forest fragments gone, animals no longer seen. Each time I return to the US the anguish I feel takes longer to dispel.

In a recent interview, I argued that we should use our ecological grief not to paralyze ourselves, but instead to implement action. With this in mind, my current research questions and advocacy work have been shaped by two sources of hope that are antidotes to this ecological grief: First, that some species, such as coyotes, are able to persist despite what humans have done to their habitat. And, second, that we have tools in our conservation toolbox, such as rewilding, that can put species back into areas where they once were. It is for these reasons that I am investigating resilience in coyotes that live in human-dominated landscapes and am also heavily involved in the efforts to restore gray wolves to their native habitat in Colorado.

You’ve done some exciting research focused on coyotes—in particular, regarding coyotes in urban areas. What goals and objectives do you hope to accomplish with this research?

I love that some species are not only persisting despite what we have done to the natural world, but in some cases are thriving! As you know, coyotes have been persecuted by humans for decades. Despite this, they have expanded their range substantially – from Alaska all the way down to southern Panama. This success is attributable in part to their ability to exploit habitat running the gamut from urban centers and suburbia to agricultural and rural landscapes. Human-dominated landscapes present coyotes with novel and expanded niche space in which they are less likely to be eaten by natural predators such as wolves, and where they have access to diverse foods such as Cheetos, birdseed, and other city-adapted prey species such as rats. We are asking: How are these new “top-down” (predation) and “bottom-up” (food) regimes shaping the adaptations of coyotes? Are rates of genetic change occurring faster in cities, as has been demonstrated in other animal species? And, while we know that so-called “urban coyotes” can be distinguished behaviorally from their rural counterparts, are these differences genetically and physiologically detectable? To address these – and other – questions, we are working at a range of sites where coyotes confront diverse dietary and predation pressures. Yellowstone National Park—where coyotes are preyed on by wolves and consume a wild diet—represents one end of the continuum of study sites, and Denver—where they encounter virtually no predation and consume an anthropogenic diet—stands at the other extreme. We are measuring coyote behavior, gut microbiome, genome-wide diet-related genetics, gene sequencing of diet, and endocrine markers of hormones known to shift in the course of adaptation to human-modified landscapes. While there have been many superb studies undertaken on coyotes, the work that we are doing differs in that it is completely non-invasive.

What are the primary methods and methodology you use for your coyote research projects, and why do you focus on noninvasive research techniques?

There is a tradition in carnivore biology to use invasive monitoring such as radio-tags and GIS collars to study species such as wolves, coyotes, and bears. These methods come with costs—animals can die in the course of being immobilized and tagged. In one example from a study in the late 1990s, every study pack of darted and radio-collared African wild dog went extinct, while nearby packs without collars were not impacted. But because of my work with primates I have a different mindset about studying animals and I know non-invasive methods can work even though it is a much more difficult approach. I have spent a lot of my career working with species for which these methods would be considered unethical (e.g., no one will ever get permission to radio-collar a chimpanzee). And, I have done field observations on species that have been persecuted by bushmeat hunters for generations and are completely unhabituated—this means that I am accustomed to spending months searching for study subjects, and hiking sometimes over 20 kilometers daily through arduous habitat such as swamp and rainforest before getting just a handful of data points. Also, happily we now have multiple sophisticated methods that we can use to get information about mammal biology from feces. Along with my colleagues at Pennsylvania State University, University of Washington – Tacoma, and Colorado State University we are collecting information on genomics, diet, and hormones—all from poop!

You’ve been involved in the effort to restore wolves to Colorado. Why do you think this is important, and how does your work in advocating for tangible ways of reducing conflicts between humans and predators dovetail with these efforts?

Rewilding works. As of the year 2000 there were more than 170 reintroductions of predators globally. One of the most successful rewilding efforts occurred when the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park where they had been extinct since the 1940s. From the Yellowstone success story, we have learned a huge amount about what happens when wolves and other apex predators are restored to landscapes. In short, putting an apex predator back into a landscape where they previously existed results in a restoration of ecological integrity and interactions among plants and animals alike.

Reintroducing predators is invariably fraught with controversy. Though a majority of Colorado citizens is in favor of reintroducing gray wolves, wolf politics are complex, with multiple voices and stakeholders involved. Nonetheless, humans have lived with wild animals in the same landscape for our entire existence even as recently as 11,000 years ago we were wrangling with species such as saber-toothed cats and cave bears! And people have been using guard animals with their livestock herds for many centuries. While we have lost a lot of this knowledge, the alternative—killing everything that feels threatening—is unconscionable and simply not sustainable. We must relearn how to live with predators. We know it can be done. There are wolves living in densely populated regions of Europe such as Italy, Spain, France and elsewhere, and even with 1.4 billion people, India still has tigers, leopards, and wolves, demonstrating that large-bodied predators and dense human populations can coexist. Moreover, rewilding provides a means to redress some of the ecologically detrimental change we have wrought on our wild landscapes. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” In my case, knowing that gray wolves have been restored to a portion of their historical range in the northern Rockies and that they might also be returned to Colorado goes a long way towards healing ecological grief. The inherent benefit of this process is also backed by decades of sound science.

We are certainly living through an unprecedented time with the coronavirus pandemic. Can you share some of the lessons you think we might learn from this experience as it relates to wildlife conservation and our relationship with the non-human animal world?

Excellent question. We are living through the devastating consequences of our incessant, selfish destruction of natural systems, our never-ending insistence that the natural world serve only one species: ourselves. Scientists have been warning us for decades of the inevitability of pandemics as we remove those animal species that we don’t want, replacing them with others. Untold numbers of pathogens exist in wild animals, the vast majority of which are novel to humans, such as the COVID-19 virus. As humans claim dominion over the remnants of our ecosystems by extirpating apex predators and thereby allowing others to become overly abundant, trading and eating animal parts, assuming that animals are here for only for us, so too have we shaped the opportunities for new and ominous diseases to flourish by presenting ourselves as alternative hosts. We cannot blame Mother Nature for this. It is the inevitable consequence of own actions—species evolving in the form of a pandemic.

People are scared and as a social primate species, we are neurally wired to seek out the physical proximity and comfort of others during stressful times, and right now we can’t. Ironically, one of the ways that people have been coping with the social isolation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic is to howl like one of the species that humans nearly completely extirpated in the 20th century: gray wolves. In some parts of the country some people are yipping and yowling like coyotes as a way to stay in touch in the evenings. Here in Colorado, of all the noises we could have chosen—banging pots and pans, honking car horns—people chose to howl like gray wolves! I don’t think this is an accident. Humans and wolves have been in close association for over 35,000 years. In Eurasia, we shared a landscape, ate similar foods (mammoth was a favorite), and dealt with the same harsh and bitterly cold glaciated world. Humans have literally been hearing wolf howls for millennia.

What is this tapping into? Neuroscientists have recently demonstrated that a sense of nostalgia plays an important role in the brain. The songs from childhood, for example, stimulate parts of the brain that yield neurochemical rewards. And, data show that nostalgia may have evolved to provide comfort. No one can deny that the sound of wolves howling in the distance is hauntingly familiar. But, by the mid-1940s, they were extirpated from most of the US. What does it say about our relationship with wolves that we have turned to howling to each other for support in a time of despair? I suggest that it’s because we yearn for something that we have lost.

What’s the significance of the “FLS” designation in your professional credentials?

Haha! Excellent question and I am happy to answer. A few years ago, I received an email message indicating that I had been elected as a Fellow of the Linnaean Society (FLS). The Linnaean Society of London was founded in the 18th century as homage to the great Carolus Linnaeus who gave us the Latin-based scientific naming system we use for all living things (e.g., he named us “Homo sapiens”). The Linnaean Society is also very famous for being the forum where Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace first presented the theory of evolution by natural selection. Ever since I was a young girl, I have been fascinated by naming things and with actively engaging with wild species. When I was about nine years old, I started a Birds of Prey club in which a primary goal was to memorize the Latin names of birds! Being a Fellow is quite an honor and the society asks that its Fellows advertise by using the “FLS” after their name.

To read more about Joanna’s work for wildlife, check out these links:

  • Personal website – Wild mammals, wild places
  • Recent interview in The Revelator – Will Voters Welcome Wolves Back to Colorado?
  • Recent interview in CU Today – As rare animals disappear, scientist faces ‘ecological grief’
  • Video aired on CBS and NBC – Why are we howling like wolves at night?
  • Recent interview in Popular Science – The real reason we’re seeing more wildlife during the pandemic
  • Op Ed in The Daily Sentinel – Wolves and pandemics: Let’s not get medieval
  • CBS Denver news story – University of Colorado Professor Educates Students on Complex Gray Wolf Issue
  • Washington Post story – Colorado Voters will decide whether to bring back endangered wolves
  • Story in The Colorado Sun that discusses research in Lambert Lab – Coyotes figured out how to survive in the city. Can urban Coloradans learn to coexist?

Note: Any photos without a watermark are in the public domain.

Camilla H. Fox is the founder and executive director of Project Coyote – a national non-profit organization based in Mill Valley, California that promotes compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy.

She has served in leadership positions with the Animal Protection Institute, Fur-Bearer Defenders, and Rainforest Action Network and has spearheaded national, state and local campaigns aimed at protecting native carnivores and fostering humane and ecologically sound solutions to human-wildlife conflicts. Learn more about Project Coyote here.

Medium Mammalian Carnivores

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Physical Description

Coyotes are smaller than wolves and larger than foxes, with adults weighing 20&ndash40 pounds and males typically larger than females. Their fur color is a mixture of browns, grays, whites, and even black, and they have large triangular ears, a long slender muzzle, and a bushy tail.

The coyote is a relatively recent addition to Florida's list of carnivores. Following the elimination of wolves throughout most of the continental United States during the last century and increased habitat alteration, the geographic range of coyotes expanded across the country to include the eastern states. Coyotes were documented in the Florida Panhandle during the 1970s and expanded their range into south Florida by the 1990s. Although 16 subspecies of coyotes are documented in North America, it is not clear which subspecies have contributed to Florida populations. Because coyotes arrived in Florida primarily by way of range expansion (although intentional introductions of small numbers by hunters have been documented), they technically are not an exotic species, nor are they historically native to Florida. Therefore the status of the species is difficult to define.

Coyotes are skilled hunters. Although coyotes prefer open habitats such as rangelands, they can use a diversity of habitats (including suburbs and large cities) and are opportunistic in their diets. Coyotes primarily prey upon small mammals such as rabbits and rodents but also large mammals such as white-tailed deer, particularly fawns. Coyotes also consume insects, large amounts of fruit, and even grass at certain times of the year. Coyotes will scavenge and eat carrion. Coyotes occasionally kill livestock and small pets, creating conflict with humans. Females reproduce annually and average 6 pups to a litter. Pups typically disperse at 8&ndash10 months of age. Like other carnivores, coyotes are territorial and establish home ranges that typically cover 5&ndash20 square miles. Little research has been done to estimate population size, but based on home range studies, it appears that densities in rural areas are approximately one breeding pair per 10&ndash15 square miles. These ranges are occupied by a breeding male and female, which is the basic social unit for coyotes. Although not much is known about coyotes in Florida, it seems clear that coyotes are here to stay. (For more information, refer to Wildlife of Florida Factsheets: Coyote,

Bobcat (Lynx rufus floridanus)

Physical Description

Bobcats are at least twice as large as a domestic cat, averaging 15&ndash35 lbs, with males typically larger than females (Table 1). They have brown/tan fur covered with small black markings that are especially prominent when young. The tail is short and bobbed with a black tip. The backs of their ears are black with a white spot (also very prominent on young, fading with age), and they often have a "ruff" around their neck.

The bobcat is Florida's smaller and only "spotted" wild cat. Wild cats that have spotted coats are sometimes melanistic, which means their fur (or pelage) may be very dark or even black. This occurs in leopards and jaguars in other regions of the world, where they may be referred to as black panthers. Melanism also has been documented in bobcats in Florida but has never been documented in Florida panthers. Like the panther, the Florida bobcat is a distinct subspecies, of which there are 12 in North America. Also like the panther, bobcats are entirely carnivorous, preying upon small animals such as rabbits, rodents, and birds but much less frequently on large animals such as white-tailed deer. Bobcats are easy to distinguish from Florida panthers by their much smaller size and short tails. For more information on visual comparisons between bobcats and panthers, refer to Did I See a Panther? (

Bobcats are solitary except during their breeding season (Aug&ndashMar). Females average 1&ndash4 kittens per litter that disperse at about 8 months of age. Bobcats are territorial, but because they are smaller and hunt prey that is more abundant, they require less land area than do larger carnivores. Home ranges vary from 5&ndash6 square miles in rural, undeveloped habitat and 1&ndash2 square miles in urban areas. Male home ranges are larger and overlap the home ranges of several females. Bobcats are found throughout Florida, and they use a variety of habitats, ranging from forests to prairies to, occasionally, urban areas. Bobcat populations are not listed at the state or federal level as threatened or endangered. There is little to no data estimating population size however, a survey of wildlife agencies suggests they were recently increasing everywhere except for Florida, where they were reported as decreasing, although still fairly common. For more information, refer to Wildlife of Florida Factsheets: Bobcat,

Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus floridanus)

Physical Description

Gray foxes are typically grey on their faces, sides, backs, and tails with a black stripe down the back and tail. The underbelly is white, and the neck and underside of the tail is a rusty-yellow color. Some grey foxes can actually have more red or brown or a mix of these colors and are often confused with red foxes. However, the gray fox has a distinct, "cat-like" face with a smaller and shorter muzzle. Adult gray foxes weigh about 7&ndash13 pounds and are typically around 40 inches long including a foot-long tail.

The gray fox is Florida's smallest wild canid. This species is native to Florida and one of 7 subspecies to occur north of Mexico. The Florida subspecies inhabits Gulf States from southern South Carolina to Florida, west to eastern Texas and along the Gulf Coast, except for Louisiana. Breeding occurs in the spring with females averaging 3&ndash5 pups that will stay with their parents until late summer or fall. Home range sizes have been estimated at 0.2&ndash2.6 square miles. Gray foxes prefer to feed on mice, rats, and rabbits but will also eat fish, fruits, insects, and some carrion. Gray foxes have been known to prey on domestic fowl such as chickens, but this behavior has been described as rare. This may be because the gray fox is very reclusive and prefers dense forested habitat during the day and more open fields and wooded areas at night. The gray fox is capable of climbing trees and is often called the "tree fox," which is an important survival strategy because gray foxes are preyed upon by larger predators, including domestic dogs and coyotes. Historically, hunting of the gray fox for sport and fur caused populations to decline, and the species was listed as threatened in some areas. Today, gray fox populations are thought to be stable but there are little data available, possibly due to the foxes' secretive habits.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Physical Description

Red foxes are orange/red over most of their bodies, except for a white tipped tail, underbelly, and neck or muzzle. They also have black ear tips and legs. This coloration differs from the gray fox, which is mostly gray with red around the neck, shoulders, and legs. Red foxes are also slightly larger than gray foxes and resemble a small dog. They weigh 10&ndash15 pounds and are about 3 feet long including their tails.

The red fox is not native to Florida (except perhaps in the Panhandle) and is thought to have become established through introduction by hunting clubs. However, a recent study showed that red foxes in the southeastern United States originated from range expansion from eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, similar to coyotes, and are now found throughout the state. Breeding occurs in late fall or early winter, females average 5 pups, and these pups stay with their parents for about 6 months. The red fox can live in a variety of habitats but typically prefers uplands mixed with fields and pastures and edges. Unlike the gray fox, they avoid dense forested habitat. They can also live in suburban areas, such as parks or golf courses. The home range size of red foxes varies with habitat, climate, and food resources, but they generally travel 1&ndash5 miles from their den. Red foxes are mainly carnivorous, eating rabbits, mice, rats, and other small animals. Red foxes will also eat fish, insects, birds, eggs, frogs, reptiles, worms, and fruits. They are solitary hunters, and when food is abundant, they will cache food in the ground. Red foxes have acute hearing, allowing them to detect prey in tall grass. They are known to jump into the air and pounce on their prey. Red foxes are highly adaptable and have adapted to human-converted open habitat—including farms. They are often reported to attack small livestock like chickens.

North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)

Physical Description

The North American river otter has thick, protective dark brown fur with a lighter brown underbelly and face. As Florida's only semi-aquatic carnivore, otters can live on land and water. Their narrow bodies, flat heads, short legs, webbed feet, and strong tails allow for streamlined movement in water. They have long whiskers to detect prey under water, clawed feet to grasp slippery prey, and a full set of teeth to tear flesh. Adult otters weigh between 11&ndash30 pounds and can grow to be up to 3&ndash4 feet including their tail.

The North American river otter occurs in Canada and most of the United States. In Florida, they are found everywhere except for the Keys and live in freshwater swamps, ponds, rivers, and creeks. They have also been observed in coastal estuaries but are more common in freshwater environments. There is also mention of two subspecies, L. c. lataxina and L. c. vaga, that have been found in Florida, although there is little to no information on these subspecies. Breeding occurs in late winter to early spring. Otters have a unique breeding adaptation called delayed implantation in which the egg is fertilized during the summer but does not implant into the uterine wall until early winter. Females average 1&ndash3 pups, and these pups may disperse or remain in familial/social groups. Home range size is typically 3&ndash15 square miles, with male home ranges overlapping multiple female home ranges. River otters are a top predator within aquatic habitats and prefer to eat aquatic prey such as fish, crawfish, frogs, and crabs but will also eat birds, eggs, reptiles, and other small mammals. Otters are social, living in small family groups typically consisting of a mother and her young. However, adult males and juveniles are often more solitary. Once hunted for their fur almost to extinction, today river otter populations are abundant.

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Physical Description

The northern raccoon is one of the most recognized mammals in North America. Their small furry bodies, black face masks, and ringed tails make them highly distinctive. Adult raccoons weigh between 10&ndash30 pounds and are about 2&ndash3 feet long including their tails.

Raccoons are classified as carnivores but consume a varied diet, including plants, fruits, seeds, carrion, and almost anything out of residential garbage cans. Raccoons are known to prey on small pets and livestock such as rabbits and chickens. This adaptability has allowed them to thrive in almost all habitats, including urban and residential areas. In Florida, breeding typically occurs from March&ndashApril, females average 3&ndash4 young, and young usually disperse by 10 months of age. Males are somewhat territorial, and home ranges average 1&ndash3 square miles, but they will travel more than a mile from their home range to access an abundant food resource. In areas where food is plentiful, raccoon densities have been 100 per square mile. Historically, panthers and red wolves would have preyed on raccoons, but today they have few natural predators in Florida. Recent studies have shown a dramatic decrease in raccoon populations near Everglades National Park, which coincides with an increase in populations of invasive Burmese pythons. Although raccoons are killed by alligators, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, and great horned owls, most raccoon fatalities are from vehicle collisions. One of the major concerns with raccoons is the potential for transmitting disease and parasites to people and pets, particularly rabies. Rabies is always a concern, and studies have reported up to 1 of 200 wild raccoons have been exposed to rabies. Do not handle wild animals, especially if they are acting strangely, wandering aimlessly, approaching without fear, or behaving aggressively. For more information on raccoons or rabies, refer to Northern Raccoon ( and Facts about Wildlife Diseases: Rabies ( Raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is an intestinal parasite of raccoons that occurs throughout Florida but is low in prevalence. This roundworm can infect humans that come in contact with raccoon feces. Be sure to wash your hands after working outside, monitor small children in areas with common raccoon latrines, and do not allow pets to roam unsupervised outside where they could be exposed to raccoon feces.

Is any farmed salmon sustainable?

That said, not all salmon farms are the same – some are much better than others. Choosing which farm you purchase your salmon from is an important choice for both your own health as well as the health of the seas.

These are the two farmed salmon producers that we at Sole of Discretion choose to work with. We’ll give you the full information so you can make up your own minds:

Glenarm Organic salmon

1. Farmed salmon: Glenarm Organic salmon

Based in Northern Ireland, Glenarm Organic salmon are nourished on a diet containing only natural and organic ingredients. These are free from GMOs and manufactured in a small feed mill around 15 miles from the farms.

The organic feed is made from recycled fish protein (except salmon, of course) from human food processing and organic vegetable matter. Importantly, the overall fish oil content in the fish feed does not exceed 28%. In conventional feed the oil content may be as high as 45%, as it is ‘high energy’ and used to accelerate the growth rate of fish, which diminishes quality.

Loch Duart salmon

2. Farmed salmon: Loch Duart salmon

Loch Duart is conventionally farmed salmon, but it is farmed “as close to nature as possible”. This means they never use growth promoters and have never used antibiotics at sea. Loch Duart have a lower stocking density of 15kg/cubic metre, as compared with the organic standard of 10kg/cubic metre, but lower than conventional farms of 20kg. They used to use the natural environment to clean the nets, rather than chemical antifoulants but now have invested in expensive noisy net cleaning machines, a big step backwards so far as I can see…

The salmon feed mostly on wild capelin, which is essentially a byproduct of the roe industry. The capelin comes from a quota controlled fishery in Iceland – female capelins are harvested for their roe, and the flesh and carcass that go into Loch Duart’s fishmeal are a waste product.

Putting aside any reservations you may have with the ethics of harvesting eggs (and we have some!) this provides better food for the salmon as it delivers a more natural diet. The results are Loch Duart salmon have some of the industry’s highest levels of omega-3 (good for reducing inflammation, and often we don’t have enough in our diets) and low levels of omega-6 (also some great benefits, but not when we have too much of it, which a lot of us do due to our modern-day, highly-processed diets).

Popsie Fish salmon fishing in Alaska

Would non-human carnivores be able to survive on farmed foods? - Biology

Have you ever wondered why we can't seem to feed the world's hungry? It's a complex issue, but it might surprise you to learn that it's not because there isn't enough food current agricultural capacity, based on current technology, exists to feed as many as 10 billion people. The Earth's population is "only" about 7 billion. The big question really is: If we want to feed everyone, what would everyone need to eat? To answer that question, download this excel spreadsheet and try plugging in some numbers.

Example : One acre of a grain crop could be used to feed cattle, and then the cattle could be used to feed people. If 50% of the energy is lost to the cattle, you could feed twice as many people if you fed them the grain directly. Another way of looking at it is that it would only take a half acre of land to feed the people grain, but a whole acre if you feed the grain to the cattle and the cattle to the people. A common practice to grow cattle faster is to feed them ground up animal protein. This means that when we eat the meat from the cow, we're at the tertiary level or higher. The loss of energy between trophic levels may also be even higher. Recent studies suggest that only

10% of energy is converted to biomass from one trophic level to the next!

The Food Chain: The answer has to do with trophic levels. As you probably know, the organisms at the base of the food chain are photosynthetic plants on land and phytoplankton (algae) in the oceans. These organisms are called the producers, and they get their energy directly from sunlight and inorganic nutrients. The organisms that eat the producers are the primary consumers. They tend to be small in size and there are many of them. The primary consumers are herbivores (vegetarians). The organisms that eat the primary consumers are meat eaters (carnivores) and are called the secondary consumers. The secondary consumers tend to be larger and fewer in number. This continues on, all the way up to the top of the food chain. About 50% of the energy (possibly as much as 90%) in food is lost at each trophic level when an organism is eaten, so it is less efficient to be a higher order consumer than a primary consumer. Therefore, the energy transfer from one trophic level to the next, up the food chain, is like a pyramid wider at the base and narrower at the top. Because of this inefficiency, there is only enough food for a few top level consumers, but there is lots of food for herbivores lower down on the food chain. There are fewer consumers than producers.

Land and aquatic energy pyramids

Trophic Level Desert Biome Grassland Biome Pond Biome Ocean Biome
Producer (Photosynthetic) Cactus Grass Algae Phytoplankton
Primary Consumer (Herbivore) Butterfly Grasshopper Insect Larva Zooplankton
Secondary Consumer (Carnivore) Lizard Mouse Minnow Fish
Tertiary Consumer (Carnivore) Snake Snake Frog Seal
Quaternary Consumer (Carnivore) Roadrunner Hawk Raccoon Shark

Food Web: At each trophic level, there may be many more species than indicated in the table above. Food webs can be very complex. Food availability may vary seasonally or by time of day. An organism like a mouse might play two roles, eating insects on occasion (making it a secondary consumer), but also dining directly on plants (making it a primary consumer). A food web of who eats who in the southwest American desert biome might look something like this:

Keystone Species: In some food webs, there is one critical "keystone species" upon which the entire system depends. In the same way that an arch collapses when the keystone is removed, an entire food chain can collapse if there is a decline in a keystone species. Often, the keystone species is a predator that keeps the herbivores in check, and prevents them from overconsuming the plants, leading to a massive die off. When we remove top predators like grizzly bears, orca whales, or wolves, for example, there is evidence that it affects not just the prey species, but even the physical environment.

Apex Predators: These species are at the top of the food chain and the healthy adults have no natural predators. The young and old may in some cases be preyed upon, but they typically succumb to disease, hunger, the effects of aging, or some combination of them. The also suffer from competition with humans, who often eliminate the top predators in order to have exclusive access to the prey species, or through habitat destruction, which is an indirect form of competition.

Decomposers: When organisms die, they are sometimes eaten by scavengers but the remaining tissues are broken down by fungi and bacteria. In this way, the nutrients that were part of the body are returned to the bottom of the trophic pyramid.

Bioaccumulation: In addition to being less energy efficient, eating higher up the food chain has its risks. Pesticides and heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead tend to be consumed in small quantities by the primary consumers. These toxins get stored in the fats of the animal. When this animal is eaten by a secondary consumer, these toxins become more concentrated because secondary consumers eat lots of primary consumers, and often live longer too. Swordfish and tuna are near the top of the aquatic food chain and, when we eat them, we are consuming all of the toxins that they have accumulated over a lifetime. For this reason, pregnant women are advised against eating these foods. Solve the following problems mathematically.

1. Given: 10 billion people can be fed a basic vegetarian diet that is nutritionally complete. How many people could we feed at the American standard-a tertiary level of consumption (3rd order consumers?). 50% of the energy is lost by each higher level.

2. If there are 250 million people in the United States most of them eating at the Tertiary (3rd) level of consumption, how many people could we feed at the Primary level?

3. Some animals like sharks are 5th order consumers! Sharks eat tuna that eat mackerel that eat herring that eat copepods that eat diatoms. If we were to make the reasonable assumption that each of these animals eats 2 of its prey each day, how many organisms died to feed the shark in one day?


The dietary transitions to meat eating and food cooking were critical events in human evolutionary history that led to significant changes in our biology and culture. Evidence of these behaviors in the fossil and archaeological records is scarce. However, our understanding of these dietary transitions can be aided by studying the co-evolutionary history of humans and tapeworms. Importantly, Taenia tapeworms are only three of the more than 400 different parasite species that infect humans [5]. Just as our tapeworms hold clues about past dietary shifts, any of our other parasites could likewise be studied to help us learn about different aspects of human evolutionary history.


Omnivore: A species that eats many different types of food, including plants and animal products.

Hominin: A group of primates including modern humans (Homo sapiens) and all extinct fossil species that are more closely related to us than to chimpanzees or any other living non-human primate species.

Dietary Shift: The incorporation of a major new food source or food preparation method into the diet of a species.

Hunter-Gatherers: People living in societies that do not generally practice agriculture or raise and maintain herds of livestock, and who forage and hunt for food.

Agricultural Revolution: The dietary transition from hunting and gathering to farming, which involved the domestication of many plants and animals. The agricultural revolution had far-reaching impacts on the culture and biology of human societies.

Domestication: A process of repeated, purposeful selective breeding for desired physical and/or behavioral traits in once-wild populations of plants or animals.

Host: An organism that provides an environment and nutrition for smaller organisms, such as bacteria and parasites.

Parasite: An organism that lives on or inside another species and that obtains food and nutrients at the expense of the health of that species.

Why Cooked Meat Is Easier For Humans to Digest Than Raw Meat

Are human stomachs better able to digest cooked meat than raw meat? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Adriana Heguy, Professor of Pathology at NYU Langone Medical CenterE, on Quora:

Humans are not carnivores, but omnivores. We do not have the gut structure that a carnivore, such as cat has. Our digestive juices are not the same as carnivores'. Carnivores can actually digest bones up to a certain extent. We did not evolve from carnivores, but from apes. So it's not like we had the capacity to eat raw meat and then we "devolved" it. No ape is a strict carnivore. Most apes are frugivores or herbivores. Even for chimps, who eat meat fairly regularly, meat is a very small portion of their diet, and when they eat meat, they eat it fresh. We can digest raw meat (think steak tartare ), but we get less nutrients from raw than cooked meats. Cooking food in general, not only meats, make them more digestible and more calories can be extracted from cooked food.

Raw meat can make people ill if the meat is contaminated with bacteria. If we were to kill an animal and immediately consume its flesh without storing it, we would not get sick. But in modern meat processing plants, the meat can become contaminated with fecal matter from the hapless animal the same goes with eggs from factory farms. So it is best to cook meat and eggs, rather than eating them raw, not just for digestibility but also to kill the bacteria. Carnivores tolerate eating more bacteria than us because of the amounts of acid their stomachs contain, about ten times higher than those of a non-carnivore. Their shorter guts also make for quick passage of the food so there is no time for rotting.

In other words, we did not evolve the capacity to eat cooked foods. We evolved as omnivores, not carnivores. And once we hit on the fact that cooking foods makes us able to extract more calories and kill bacteria, we stuck with it.

This question originally appeared on Quora. the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:


HWCs have been and will continue to be a key topic in conservation and agricultural research. Conflicts increasingly arise in agricultural landscapes and in relation to transboundary wildlife management, for example, where humans have modified nature in such a way that farmland provides new forms of habitat to species that are perceived as pests and where people and wildlife follow different systemic boundaries (e.g., agricultural land use vs. wildlife habitat, or administrative and political boundaries vs. wildlife home ranges). The role of research in understanding HWC and facilitating promotion and implementation of solutions for a sustainable coexistence requires different methods and tools. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Based on our synthesis, we come to the following key conclusions:

People's perceptions are central to achieving coexistence and are ideally based on equitable participation among relevant stakeholders. Coexistence is not fixed, but can rather be understood as a dynamic process of continuing negotiations between the different stakeholder groups. Therefore, a holistic perspective that objectively considers and weighs the often diverging arguments between stakeholder groups can provide the evidence base required to cope with the diverse and challenging facets of HWC and coexistence.

A formal and objective accounting of stakeholders’ perceptions about wildlife-related damages and establishing effective means for quantifying economic losses and costs (i.e., transaction and opportunity costs) can help bring greater transparency to this controversial topic. Therefore, we suggest such an evidence basis is a necessary step in contributing to effective damage prevention, considering that wildlife behavior, landscape and governance structures, and land management ideally inform a holistic and integrated assessment.

We suggest a more comprehensive integration of transdisciplinary science-stakeholder policy approaches into policy design and management, for example, by institutions that use evidence-based science and multistakeholder formats as the basis for their decisions.

Finally, we conclude that species conservation needs a special focus on multiuse landscapes, such as agricultural areas, that reflect the interface between humans and wildlife.

For Most Of Human History, Being An Omnivore Was No Dilemma

Gorillas are fine with being herbivores, like this one at a Seattle zoo. But humans evolved as omnivores. Is diet destiny?

If diet is destiny, then modern humans should thank our ancestors for their ability to eat just about anything.

Two new studies peek into the distant past to try to figure out just how big a role food played in human evolution. One says that eating meat made it possible for early human mothers to wean babies earlier and have more children.

The other study finds that humans and some other primates have stuck with being omnivores for a very long time. That's unlike many of our mammal friends, who used the omnivore lifestyle as a mere rest stop on the way from herbivore to carnivore.

"Primates are a little bit weird," says Samantha Hopkins, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Oregon, who led the study that revealed primates' omnivorous ways. Most primates became omnivores early in their existence, and stayed put. "We seem to hang out in this omnivorous role."

It's easy to imagine that there's an evolutionary advantage to being able to eat just about anything. Herbivores and carnivores have specialized teeth and digestive systems that make going back and forth practically impossible.

For instance, carnivores are usually the first to go extinct when times are tough, because they depend on other animals for their food source.

But there may be some evolutionary downside to being an omnivore, too Hopkins says. Namely, we're slow to diversify.

It took three times longer for omnivores to diversify, compared to herbivores. Producing more varied species means producing more progeny, which is the name of the game in evolution.

Hopkins and her colleagues found this out by scanning the literature for data on what 1,500 species of modern mammals eat. They gleaned it from field research by biologists, who sift through poop and examine stomach contents. It is not glamorous work.

They then matched the animals' diets with the mammalian family tree, and traced back the branches. It's the first study to look at diet across all mammal group through evolutionary time. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The second study looked at how long modern mammals nurse their young. Researchers in Sweden compared the diet, brain size, and weaning times of 67 species. Humans breastfeed for 2 years on average, while chimpanzees, our closest relatives, nurse for four to five years.

They found that all the animals stopped nursing when their brains hit a certain stage of development, regardless of diet. All the meat-eaters, including ferrets, killer whales, and humans, reached that point of brain development earlier than herbivores or omnivores, the researchers found. (They classified humans as carnivores based on the percentage of meat in the typical human diet.)

Also, they conclude, the big difference in breast-feeding times between humans and other primates is due to the better nutrition provided to both mothers and babies by meat consumption. The study was published online in PlosOne.

Big caveat: Both of these studies looked at the role of diet in evolution. They aren't a commentary on whether modern-day eating habits, carnivorous or not, are healthy.


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