Episode Summary

Human-based food used as bait by hunters can reduce bears' gut microbe diversity!

Microbe of the episode:

Actinomadura verrucosospora

News Item

Jesse's takeaways

Gut microbes are important for the health of most animals. In humans, many things can affect our gut microbe community, including diet, medications, and lifestyle. Eating a varied diet with diverse kinds of plant-based foods can maintain a healthy, functional community of many different kinds of microbe. However, eating mostly highly processed grain-based foods can reduce the diversity and functionality of the gut community.

This is also true in bears. In this study, when bears consumed more processed, grain-based human foods via hunters leaving such foods out as bait, the gut communities in these bears had reduced diversity of microbes. The effects of this reduced diversity were not determined, but it is reasonable to assume it was not good for the bears’ overall health.

Journal Paper

Gillman SJ, McKenney EA, Lafferty DJR. 2022. Human-provisioned foods reduce gut microbiome diversity in American black bears (Ursus americanus). J Mammal 103:339–346.

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