jueves, 28 de enero de 2016

Megafauna mega-issues

A Columbian mammoth, which existed in North America until 11,000 years ago. The Columbian mammoth is one of over 100 large herbivores and carnivores that went extinct as modern humans spread around the world. Large animals are particularly important in shaping the structure and function of ecosystems. Cover image of PNAS courtesy of Carl Buell, with the original on display at The Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Following a successful conference on megafauna - large animals - two journals have published special features on the topic. Professor Yadvinder Malhi from the Environmental Change Institute, part of the School of Geography and the Environment explains:

This week sees the publication of two special features, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Ecography with 24 papers examining how megafauna affect ecosystem and Earth System function. This topic is based on a conference we held on Oxford in March 2014, and features on the cover of both journals.

We live in the shadows of lost giants. Until relatively recently almost every major vegetated land area on Earth possessed an abundance of large animals that we now only associate with African game parks. Mesmerizing early art shows how much these giant creatures dominated the psyche of our ancestors. [...] University of Oxford