Saving the world’s terrestrial megafauna

Sandom, Christopher, Ripple, William J, Chapron, Guillaume, López-Bao, José Vicente, Durant, Sarah M, Macdonald, David W, Lindsey, Peter A, Bennett, Elizabeth L and et al, (2016) Saving the world’s terrestrial megafauna. BioScience, 66 (10). pp. 807-812. ISSN 0006-3568

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Abstract

From the late Pleistocene to the Holocene, and now the so called Anthropocene, humans have been driving an ongoing series of species declines and extinctions (Dirzo et al. 2014). Large-bodied mammals are typically at a higher risk of extinction than smaller ones (Cardillo et al. 2005). However, in some circumstances terrestrial megafauna populations have been able to recover some of their lost numbers due to strong conservation and political commitment, and human cultural changes (Chapron et al. 2014). Indeed many would be in considerably worse predicaments in the absence of conservation action (Hoffmann et al. 2015). Nevertheless, most mammalian megafauna face dramatic range contractions and population declines. In fact, 59% of the world’s largest carnivores (≥ 15 kg, n = 27) and 60% of the world’s largest herbivores (≥ 100 kg, n = 74) are classified as threatened with extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List (supplemental table S1 and S2). This situation is particularly dire in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, home to the greatest diversity of extant megafauna (figure 1). Species at risk of extinction include some of the world’s most iconic animals—such as gorillas, rhinos, and big cats (figure 2 top row)—and, unfortunately, they are vanishing just as science is discovering their essential ecological roles (Estes et al. 2011). Here, our objectives are to raise awareness of how these megafauna are imperiled (species in supplemental table S1 and S2) and to stimulate broad interest in developing specific recommendations and concerted action to conserve them.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Megafauna; Conservation; Extinction
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Christopher Sandom
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2016 09:38
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2017 02:37
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/62065

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