Ecological and evolutionary legacy of megafauna extinctions

  title={Ecological and evolutionary legacy of megafauna extinctions},
  author={Mauro Galetti and Marcos Mol{\'e}on and Pedro Jordano and Mathias Mistretta Pires and Paulo Roberto Guimar{\~a}es and Thomas Pape and Elizabeth Nichols and Dennis M. Hansen and Jens M. Olesen and Michael Munk and Jacqueline S de Mattos and Andreas H. Schweiger and Norman Owen‐Smith and Christopher N. Johnson and Robert J. Marquis and Jens‐Christian Svenning},
  journal={Biological Reviews},
For hundreds of millions of years, large vertebrates (megafauna) have inhabited most of the ecosystems on our planet. During the late Quaternary, notably during the Late Pleistocene and the early Holocene, Earth experienced a rapid extinction of large, terrestrial vertebrates. While much attention has been paid to understanding the causes of this massive megafauna extinction, less attention has been given to understanding the impacts of loss of megafauna on other organisms with whom they… 

The Paleoecological Impact of Grazing and Browsing: Consequences of the Late Quaternary Large Herbivore Extinctions

  • John RowanJ. Faith
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    The Ecology of Browsing and Grazing II
  • 2019
As recently as ~50,000 years ago, a great diversity of large-bodied mammalian herbivores (species >44 kg) occupied nearly all of Earth’s terrestrial realms. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, the vast

Megafauna declines and extinctions over the past 40,000 years in eastern monsoonal China: causes, consequences and implications

Megafauna species are key to a variety of ecosystems. Closely associated with the global spread of Homo sapiens out of Africa since the Late Pleistocene, megafauna declines and extinctions have had

Late Pleistocene megafauna extinction leads to missing pieces of ecological space in a North American mammal community.

The conservation status of large-bodied mammals is dire. Their decline has serious consequences because they have unique ecological roles not replicated by smaller-bodied animals. Here, we use the

The legacy of the extinct Neotropical megafauna on plants and biomes

It is shown that extinct megafauna left a significant imprint on current ecosystem biogeography, revealing that historical herbivory substantially explains current trait and biomeBiogeography in South and Central America.

Reorganization of surviving mammal communities after the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction

Tracking community structure through the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America found that large mammals likely promoted co-occurrence in the Pleistocene, and their loss contributed to the modern assembly pattern in which co- Occurrence frequently falls below random expectations.

Megafauna extinctions have reduced biotic connectivity worldwide

AIM: Connectivity among ecosystems is necessary to sustain ecological processes that promote biodiversity, community stability and ecosystem resilience, such as organism and nutrient dispersal. Along

To adapt or go extinct? The fate of megafaunal palm fruits under past global change

It is suggested that Quaternary climate oscillations and concurrent habitat fragmentation and defaunation of megafaunal frugivores in the New World have reduced seed dispersal distances and geographical ranges of palms with megafaunaal fruits, resulting in their extinction.

Biogeography of extinction: The demise of insular mammals from the Late Pleistocene till today

Worldwide late-Quaternary population declines in extant megafauna are due to Homo sapiens rather than climate

The worldwide loss of large animal species over the past 100,000 years is evident from the fossil record, with climate and human impact as the most likely causes of megafauna extinctions. To help



Ecological consequences of Late Quaternary extinctions of megafauna

  • C. Johnson
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2009
Understanding the past role of giant herbivores provides fundamental insight into the history, dynamics and conservation of contemporary plant communities.

Megafauna in the Earth system

The state of knowledge about the environmental legacies of the terminal Pleistocene megafauna extinction, the complex role of modern large-bodied animals and what the ongoing loss of their ecological interactions might mean in terms of ecosystem function are synthesized.

Megafauna and ecosystem function from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene

Progress is reviewed in understanding of how megafauna affect ecosystem physical and trophic structure, species composition, biogeochemistry, and climate, drawing on special features of PNAS and Ecography that have been published as a result of an international workshop held in Oxford in 2014.

Megafaunal extinctions: the conservation message from 11,000 years B.p.

  • N. Owen‐Smith
  • Environmental Science
    Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
  • 1989
If elephants and rhinoceroses cannot be conserved active habitat manipulation will be needed to retain a diverse fauna of large mammals in such regions.

Pleistocene megafaunal interaction networks became more vulnerable after human arrival

The findings suggest that the basic aspects of the organization of ecological communities may have played an important role in major extinction events in the past, and knowledge of community-level properties and their consequences to dynamics may be critical to understand past and future extinctions.

Megafauna biomass tradeoff as a driver of Quaternary and future extinctions

  • A. Barnosky
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2008
An increase in human biomass intersected with climate change to cause the Quaternary Megafauna Extinction and an ecological threshold event, after which humans became dominant in the global ecosystem.

Ecological and evolutionary consequences of living in a defaunated world

Linking Top-Down Forces to the Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinctions

Evidence is presented that the large mammalian herbivores of the North American Pleistocene were primarily predator limited and at low densities, and therefore highly susceptible to extinction when humans were added to the predator guild.