Linking Top-Down Forces to the Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinctions

  title={Linking Top-Down Forces to the Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinctions},
  author={William J. Ripple and Blaire Van Valkenburgh},
Humans, in conjunction with natural top-down processes and through a sequence of cascading trophic interactions, may have contributed to the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions. The arrival of the first humans, as hunters and scavengers, through top-down forcing, could have triggered a population collapse of large herbivores and their predators. We present evidence that the large mammalian herbivores of the North American Pleistocene were primarily predator limited and at low densities, and… 
Ecological and evolutionary legacy of megafauna extinctions
It is argued that the ongoing extinction of the extant megafauna in the Anthropocene will catalyse another wave of co‐extinction events due to the enormous diversity of key ecological interactions and functional roles provided by the megAFauna.
Sahul’s megafauna were vulnerable to plant-community changes due to their position in the trophic network
Extinctions stemming from environmental change often trigger trophic cascades and coextinctions. However, it remains unclear whether trophic cascades were a large contributor to the megafauna
Introduced megafauna are rewilding the Anthropocene
It is proposed that attitudes towards introduced megafauna should allow for broader research and management goals, and much remains unknown about the ecology of introduced herbivores, but evidence suggests that these populations are rewilding modern ecosystems.
Pleistocene Overkill and North American Mammalian Extinctions
Clovis groups in Late Pleistocene North America occasionally hunted several now extinct large mammals. But whether their hunting drove 37 genera of animals to extinction has been disputed, largely
The collapse of megafaunal populations in southeastern Brazil
Abstract Whether humans or climate change caused the extinction of megafaunal populations is actively debated. Caves in the Lagoa Santa provide mixed assemblages of megafauna and human remains;
A human role in Andean megafaunal extinction?


Pleistocene Megafaunal Collapse, Novel Plant Communities, and Enhanced Fire Regimes in North America
The data suggest that population collapse and functional extinction of the megafauna preceded their final extinction by several thousand years and closely preceded enhanced fire regimes and the development of plant communities that have no modern analogs.
Assessing the Causes of Late Pleistocene Extinctions on the Continents
Evidence now supports the idea that humans contributed to extinction on some continents, but human hunting was not solely responsible for the pattern of extinction everywhere, and suggests that the intersection of human impacts with pronounced climatic change drove the precise timing and geography of extinction in the Northern Hemisphere.
Megafaunal Extinctions and the Disappearance of a Specialized Wolf Ecomorph
Fifty millennia of catastrophic extinctions after human contact.
Determinants of loss of mammal species during the Late Quaternary ‘megafauna’ extinctions: life history and ecology, but not body size
  • C. Johnson
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2002
This analysis shows two general features of the selectivity of Late Quaternary mammal extinctions in Australia, Eurasia, the Americas and Madagascar that are consistent with extinctions being due to interaction with human populations.
The Pleistocene Hunters Had Help
  • D. Janzen
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    The American Naturalist
  • 1983
It is striking that the large herbivorous animals that did survive the extinctions are well known for being very shy, wary, and fleet (deer, small camelids, tapir) and/or have group defenses (caribou, muskox, peccaries, small Camelids).
Of mice, mastodons and men: human-mediated extinctions on four continents
It is found that body size distributions of all mammals in North America, South America, Africa and Australia before and after the late Pleistocene show a similar large-size selectivity of extinctions across continents, despite differences in timing.
Late Quaternary Extinctions: State of the Debate
Results from recent studies suggest that humans precipitated extinction in many parts of the globe through combined direct (hunting) and perhaps indirect (competition, habitat alteration) impacts, but that the timing and geography of extinction might have been different and the worldwide magnitude less, had not climatic change coincided with human impacts in many places.
American megafaunal extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene
  • G. Haynes
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2009
Chapter 1: Introduction to the volume, Gary Haynes Chapter 2: Sudden deaths: the chronology of Terminal Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, Stuart Fiedel Chapter 3: Estimates of Clovis-era megafaunal