Exploring a natural baseline for large herbivore biomass

  title={Exploring a natural baseline for large herbivore biomass},
  author={Camilla Fl{\o}jgaard and Pil Birkefeldt M{\o}ller Pedersen and Christopher J. Sandom and Jens‐Christian Svenning and Rasmus Ejrn{\ae}s},
The massive global losses of large mammals in the Pleistocene have triggered severe ecosystem changes including changed nutrient cycles, fire regimes and climate, shifts in biomes and loss of biodiversity. Large herbivores create and diversify resources and living space for other organisms and thereby play an important role in ecosystem functioning and biodiversity conservation. However, even today large herbivores are regulated, hunted and driven to extinction to a degree where intact large… 

Will borealization of Arctic tundra herbivore communities be driven by climate warming or vegetation change?

It is demonstrated that vertebrate herbivore communities are significantly more diverse in the boreal forest than in the Arctic tundra in terms of species richness, phylogenetic diversity and functional diversity, and that temperature was a more important determinant of herbivor community structure across these biomes than vegetation productivity or woody plant cover.

Rapid Anthropocene realignment of allometric scaling rules

It is shown that the relationship between body size and population density in mammals has shifted down and became shallower, corresponding to a decline in population density of 32-72%, for the largest and smallest mammals, respectively.

Rewilding should be central to global restoration efforts

Extinctions have strongly reduced the mammalian consumption of primary productivity

The results show that mammalian herbivores naturally play an important part in ecosystems at a global scale, but that this effect has been strongly reduced by extinctions and extirpations.



Collapse of the world’s largest herbivores

The rate of large herbivore decline suggests that ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.

High herbivore density associated with vegetation diversity in interglacial ecosystems

Signs are found of high abundances of large herbivores and a mosaic of closed forest and wood–pasture vegetation in the last interglacial period and primarily closed forests with lower herbivore abundance in the early Holocene, which support an important role for large Herbivores in driving vegetation dynamics and in current efforts to promote landscape diversity through rewilding.

Combining paleo-data and modern exclosure experiments to assess the impact of megafauna extinctions on woody vegetation

This review combines paleo- data with information from modern exclosure experiments to assess the impact of large herbivores (and their disappearance) on woody species, landscape structure, and ecosystem functions, and proposes a conceptual framework that describes the impact that herbivore suppression of woody plants is strongest where Herbivore diversity is high.

Effects of large herbivores on tundra vegetation in a changing climate, and implications for rewilding

  • J. OlofssonE. Post
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2018
It is concluded that there is a potential to reintroduce large herbivores in many arctic locations, and that doing so would potentially reduce some of the unwanted effects of a warmer climate.

Quantification of population sizes of large herbivores and their long‐term functional role in ecosystems using dung fungal spores

Results from this study demonstrate that there is a highly significant relationship between spore abundance and local biomass densities of herbivores that can be used in the calibration of fossil records and indicate that this method provides a robust quantitative measure of Herbivore population size over time.

Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale

To the authors' knowledge this is the first quantitative documentation at a regional scale of the impact of animal husbandry practices, such as herding, stock selection and veterinary care, on the biomass and size-structure of livestock herds compared with native herbivores.

Trophic rewilding: impact on ecosystems under global change

  • E. S. BakkerJ. Svenning
  • Environmental Science
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2018
There is increasing evidence that this global wildlife loss does not only imply the loss of charismatic animals but also the functions they have in ecosystems, and a novel ecological restoration technique has emerged, referred to as rewilding.

Wolves and the Ecology of Fear: Can Predation Risk Structure Ecosystems?

It is indicated that predation risk may have profound effects on the structure of ecosystems and is an important constituent of native biodiversity.

Defaunation in the Anthropocene

Defaunation is both a pervasive component of the planet’s sixth mass extinction and also a major driver of global ecological change.

Herbivores, resources and risks: alternating regulation along primary environmental gradients in savannas.