Advanced search
Start date
(Reference retrieved automatically from Web of Science through information on FAPESP grant and its corresponding number as mentioned in the publication by the authors.)

Pleistocene megafaunal interaction networks became more vulnerable after human arrival

Full text
Pires, Mathias M. [1] ; Koch, Paul L. [2] ; Farina, Richard A. [3] ; de Aguiart, Marcus A. M. [4] ; dos Reis, Sergio F. [5] ; Guimaraes, Jr., Paulo R. [1]
Total Authors: 6
[1] Univ Sao Paulo, Inst Biociencias, Dept Ecol, BR-05508090 Sao Paulo - Brazil
[2] Univ Calif Santa Cruz, Dept Earth & Planetary Sci, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 - USA
[3] Univ Republica, Fac Ciencias, Secc Paleontol, Montevideo 11400 - Uruguay
[4] Univ Estadual Campinas, Inst Fis Gleb Wataghin, Dept Fis Materia Condensada, BR-13083862 Sao Paulo - Brazil
[5] Univ Estadual Campinas, Inst Biol, Dept Biol Anim, BR-13083862 Sao Paulo - Brazil
Total Affiliations: 5
Document type: Journal article
Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; v. 282, n. 1814, p. 64-72, SEP 7 2015.
Web of Science Citations: 9

The end of the Pleistocene was marked by the extinction of almost all large land mammals worldwide except in Africa. Although the debate on Pleistocene extinctions has focused on the roles of climate change and humans, the impact of perturbations depends on properties of ecological communities, such as species composition and the organization of ecological interactions. Here, we combined palaeoecological and ecological data, food-web models and community stability analysis to investigate if differences between Pleistocene and modern mammalian assemblages help us understand why the inegafauna died out in the Americas while persisting in Africa. We show Pleistocene and modern assemblages share similar network topology, but differences in richness and body size distributions made Pleistocene communities significantly more vulnerable to the effects of human arrival. The structural changes promoted by humans in Pleistocene networks would have increased the likelihood of unstable dynamics, which may favour extinction cascades in communities facing extrinsic perturbations. Our 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. Knowledge of community-level properties and their consequences to dynamics may be critical to understand past and future extinctions. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 09/54422-8 - Structure and coevolutionary dynamics in mutualistic networks
Grantee:Paulo Roberto Guimarães Junior
Support type: Research Grants - Young Investigators Grants