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Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America

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Abstract

As recently as 11,000 years ago "near time" to geologists mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres, ground sloths, giant armadillos, native camels and horses, the dire wolf, and many other large mammals roamed North America. In what has become one of science's greatest riddles, these large animals vanished in North and South America around the time humans arrived at the end of the last great ice age. Part paleontological adventure and part memoir, "Twilight of the Mammoths "presents in detail internationally renowned paleoecologist Paul Martin's widely discussed and debated "overkill" hypothesis to explain these mysterious megafauna extinctions. Taking us from Rampart Cave in the Grand Canyon, where he finds himself "chest deep in sloth dung," to other important fossil sites in Arizona and Chile, Martin's engaging book, written for a wide audience, uncovers our rich evolutionary legacy and shows why he has come to believe that the earliest Americans literally hunted these animals to death. As he discusses the discoveries that brought him to this hypothesis, Martin relates many colorful stories and gives a rich overview of the field of paleontology as well as his own fascinating career. He explores the ramifications of the overkill hypothesis for similar extinctions worldwide and examines other explanations for the extinctions, including climate change. Martin's visionary thinking about our missing megafauna offers inspiration and a challenge for today's conservation efforts as he speculates on what we might do to remedy this situation both in our thinking about what is "natural" and in the natural world itself."
... 1) It is estimated that when Clovis hunters arrived there were hundreds of millions of these large mammals on the landscape (1). Even so, there are only 16 occurrences in which humans killed or scavenged one of these animals (5,11). ...
... Despite this longer overlap between people and megafauna, there are no pre-Clovis age kill−scavenging sites (5). Overkill advocates either dismiss evidence of a pre-Clovis human presence or consider it irrelevant, assuming Clovis groups were the first biggame hunters (1,2). 5) In contrast to the dearth of kill−scavenging occurrences of the extinct genera, there are, from the same period overkill is said to have occurred, ∼90 kill−scavenging occurrences of six extant large herbivores, including bison, elk, moose, and deer (11). ...
... All of which raises a longstanding question: If extinctions were caused by climate changes at the end of the Pleistocene, then why did all those animals survive multiple previous glacial−interglacial transitions (1,3,9,72), only to vanish at the one transition when human hunters were on the landscape? The question, although often used by overkill advocates to criticize climate-based explanations, is a reasonable one. ...
Article
The end of the Pleistocene in North America saw the extinction of 38 genera of mostly large mammals. As their disappearance seemingly coincided with the arrival of people in the Americas, their extinction is often attributed to human overkill, notwithstanding a dearth of archaeological evidence of human predation. Moreover, this period saw the extinction of other species, along with significant changes in many surviving taxa, suggesting a broader cause, notably, the ecological upheaval that occurred as Earth shifted from a glacial to an interglacial climate. But, overkill advocates ask, if extinctions were due to climate changes, why did these large mammals survive previous glacial−interglacial transitions, only to vanish at the one when human hunters were present? This question rests on two assumptions: that previous glacial−interglacial transitions were similar to the end of the Pleistocene, and that the large mammal genera survived unchanged over multiple such cycles. Neither is demonstrably correct. Resolving the cause of large mammal extinctions requires greater knowledge of individual species’ histories and their adaptive tolerances, a fuller understanding of how past climatic and ecological changes impacted those animals and their biotic communities, and what changes occurred at the Pleistocene−Holocene boundary that might have led to those genera going extinct at that time. Then we will be able to ascertain whether the sole ecologically significant difference between previous glacial−interglacial transitions and the very last one was a human presence.
... They dated two coprolites from Trench 1 and a third from an equivalent horizon elsewhere in the cave and obtained dates of 11,750 + 140 yr BP, 11,060 +180 yr BP and 10,780 + 140 yr BP, respectively. Plant analysis of the coprolites suggests a surprisingly high intake of conifer needles in the sloth diet (Spaulding and Martin, 1977;Martin, 2005). Logan and Black (1979) described a diverse Quaternary fauna of reptiles and mammals. ...
... The cave was discovered in 1982. A large trampled coprolite was found near a pit dug by pothunters (Mead et al., , 1986Martin, 2005). This and other large coprolites represent Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) and constitute the majority of a large latrinite with a volume of about 300 m 3 (Davis et al., , 1985Mead et al., 1984Mead et al., , 1986bMead, 1987, 1989;Santucci et al., 2001). ...
... Mead et al. (1984) first reported Shasta ground sloth coprolites from Bechan Cave. Martin (2005) considered that one small coprolite containing an acorn could represent Nothrotheriops shastensis. None of the sloth coprolites have been dated, but ages for the latrinite were obtained from six mammoth coprolites (11,670 ± 300 yr BP, 11,850 ± 160 yr BP, 12,400 ± 250 yr BP, 12,620 ± 220 yr BP, 12,900 ± 160 yr BP and 13,505 ± 580 yr BP), plant remains from mammoth coprolites (11,870 ± 140 yr BP, 12,090 ± 210 yr BP, 12,320 ± 160 yr BP, 12,390 ± 120 yr BP, 2,390 ± 140 yr BP, 12,430 ± 150 yr BP, 12,430 ± 300 yr BP, 12, 470 ± 140 yr BP, 12,570 ± 100 yr BP, 12,570 ± 130 yr BP, 12,610 ± 140 yr BP, 12,620 ± 130 yr BP, 12,880 ± 140 yr BP, and 13,040 ± 280 yr BP) and a coprolite of the shrub ox Euceratherium collinum (11,630 ± 150 yr BP) (Mead et al., 1986c;Mead and Agenbroad, 1992). ...
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The first sloth coprolites were collected at the end of the Nineteenth
... Utah Bechan Cave is a large shelter formed in the Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone and Kayenta Formation in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area . A large trampled coprolite was found near a pit dug by pothunters (Mead et al., , 1986bMartin, 2005). This and other large coprolites represent Mammuthocopros allenrorum produced by Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) and constitute the majority of a large latrinite with a volume of about 300 m 3 (Davis et al., , 1985Mead et al., 1984Mead et al., , 1986bMead, 1987, 1989;Santucci et al., 2001;Martin, 2005;Hunt and Lucas, 2020). ...
... A large trampled coprolite was found near a pit dug by pothunters (Mead et al., , 1986bMartin, 2005). This and other large coprolites represent Mammuthocopros allenrorum produced by Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) and constitute the majority of a large latrinite with a volume of about 300 m 3 (Davis et al., , 1985Mead et al., 1984Mead et al., , 1986bMead, 1987, 1989;Santucci et al., 2001;Martin, 2005;Hunt and Lucas, 2020). This identification was initially based on morphology and the size and taxonomy of the content (Mead et al., 1986b) and subsequently confirmed by DNA analysis (Karpinski et al., 2017). ...
... Rampart Cave contains the largest known accumulation of Pleistocene vertebrate coprolites, and it has been extensively excavated and studied (Laudermilk and Munz 1938;Martin et al., 1961;Hansen, 1978;Martin et al., 1985;Schmidt et al., 1992;Santucci et al., 2001;McDonald, 2003;Hunt et al., 2005;Martin, 2005). Hansen (1978) refined a broad stratigraphy of the bromalite record in the cave that had been initially developed by Long and coworkers Kenworthy et al., 2010). ...
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An extensive record of desiccated coprolites of diverse Late Pleistocene taxa is preserved in caves of the American Southwest. These include 21 caves in Arizona, 12 in Utah, six in Texas, four in New Mexico and one in Nevada. The majority of the coprolites represent herbivores, which is extremely rare for coprofaunas. There are two distinct regions characterized by cave coprolites – a northern realm (northern Arizona and southeastern Utah) is characterized by diverse morphologies of coprolites, and a southern realm (southern New Mexico and West Texas) where caves usually yield only coprolites of ground sloths (Castrocopros martini) and coprolites of the packrat or woodrat Neotoma. The geographic distribution of the localities is governed by precipitation patterns and by the availability suitable cave-producing rock types. Desiccated coprolites can yield some of the highest quality radiocarbon dates, and these demonstrate extinctions of the megafauna between 11 and 12,000 yr B.P. in the terminal Pleistocene. Macro-botanical specimens and pollen provide important evidence of individual diet and the local ecosystem. Castrocopros martini and coprolites of Neotoma are widespread, whereas coprolites of bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis and the extinct mountain goat Oreamnos harringtoni are common in caves in Arizona and Utah, but they are absent from Nevada and New Mexico. Coprolites of a large ruminant (Suaviocopros harrisi igen. et isp. nov.) and mammoths (Mammuthocopros allenorum) are restricted to Utah, which likely relates to topography. We advocate the discontinuation of the term “dung” for the cave coprolites and the use of binomial ichnotaxonomy for Pleistocene coprolites.
... The Columbian mammoth went extinct at the end of the last ice age (in the Late Pleistocene) about 13,000 years ago. At this time, there was a mass extinction of megafauna on every continent except Africa and Southeast Asia [9,10,15]. In North America, 32 out of 41 large prey species went extinct during this event [1]. ...
... We have chosen to study the Columbian mammoth specifically because its range was completely contained within North America and encompassed nearly all of the continental United States. In contrast, the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), while found in North America, was also found outside it, predominantly in Siberia [15]. In this manner, we can treat the human migration into North America as an invasive species. ...
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One extinction hypothesis of the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi), called overkill, theorizes that early humans overhunted the animal. We employ two different approaches to test this hypothesis mathematically: analyze the stability of the equilibria of a 2D ordinary differential equations (ODE) system and develop a metapopulation differential equations model. The 2D ODE system is a modified predator-prey model that also includes migration. The metapopulation model is a spatial expansion of the first model on a rectangular grid. Using this metapopulation system, we model the migration of humans into North America and the response in the mammoth population. These approaches show evidence that human-mammoth interaction would have affected the extinction of the Columbian mammoth during the late Pleistocene.
... The Pleistocene megafauna were large Pleistocene mammals exceeding 45 kilograms (100 pounds) adult body mass (Anderson 1984;Martin 1984). Common megafauna in North America include (among others) mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres, bison, camels, horses, giant ground sloths, glyptodonts, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, short-faced bears, different kinds of deer and peccaries, and even modern humans ( Bell et al. 2004;Geist 2005;Lucas et al. 1999;Martin 2005;Mead et al. 1986). Figure 2 shows examples of North American megafauna. ...
... Hypotheses for the extinction of the megafauna (at roughly 12,800 cal. years BP) range from overkill (e.g., Martin 1994Martin , 2005) to climate change (e.g., Grayson and Meltzer 2015) to other fringe hypotheses (comet, disease, solar flares, etc. Escapule, AZ ~13,000 Ballenger 2010Ballenger , 2015Haynes and Huckell 2007;Hemmings 1970;Hemmings and Haynes 1969 Hargis, AZ Clovis Ballenger 2010Ballenger , 2015Haynes 1968;Tessman 1974 Lehner, AZ 13,177±45 Antevs 1959;Ballenger 2010Ballenger , 2015Haury 1956;Haury et al. 1959;Haynes 1982;Lance 1959;Mehringer and Haynes 1965 Leikem, AZ ~12,900 Ballenger 2009Ballenger , 2010Ballenger , 2015Johnson and Haynes 1967 Mockingbird Gap, NM 13,096±177 Huckell 2009Huckell , 2015Huckell et al. 2006Huckell et al. , 2007Huckell et al. , 2008Weber 1997;Weber andAgogino 1997 Murray Springs, AZ 12,793±52 Agenbroad andHaynes 1975;Ballenger 2010Ballenger , 2015Haynes 1968Haynes , 1969Haynes and Hemmings 1968;Haynes and Huckell 2007 Naco, AZ ~13,000 Ballenger 2009Ballenger , 2010Ballenger , 2015Haury 1952;Haury et al. 1953 Navarrete, AZ ~12,900 Ballenger 2009Ballenger , 2010Ballenger , 2015 Figure 3 Minimum number of individual (MNI) megafauna at Southwest Clovis sites (a) by excavation years and (b) with added taxa site-by-site from Ballenger (2015). 1950-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2009 ...
... Si pensamos qué región del mundo se distingue por presentar una fauna notoria de mamíferos de talla grande, lo más seguro es que venga a nuestra mente el continente africano, con sus elefantes, rinocerontes y jirafas. Sin embargo, hasta hace unos cuantos miles de años, la cantidad de especies de mamíferos de gran talla presentes en el continente americano era igual o mayor a la que se encuentra actualmente en África (Martin, 2005). Existe evidencia fósil que demuestra que, durante el Cuaternario tardío, existían por lo menos 10 especies de megaherbívoros (>10 000 kg) en Norteamérica, entre los que se incluían 3 proboscídeos, 4 perezosos gigantes, 2 armadillos gigantes y 1 camello, entre otros (figura 5). ...
... Este número de especies representa el doble de los megaherbívoros que habitan actualmente en África. En el 13 caso de Sudamérica esta diversidad de fauna de gran talla era aún más impresionante, ya que se ha registrado evidencia fósil de 25 especies de megaherbívoros (Martin, 2005). Lo anterior muestra que hasta hace unas cuantas decenas de miles de años, es decir, muy poco en la escala geológica, un paisaje "típico" en el continente americano incluía la presencia de una abundante variedad de mamíferos de talla similar o aún mayor que la de los tapires. ...
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Importance of the conservation of Baird´s tapir from an evolutionary perspective
... Si pensamos qué región del mundo se distingue por presentar una fauna notoria de mamíferos de talla grande, lo más seguro es que venga a nuestra mente el continente africano, con sus elefantes, rinocerontes y jirafas. Sin embargo, hasta hace unos cuantos miles de años, la cantidad de especies de mamíferos de gran talla presentes en el continente americano era igual o mayor a la que se encuentra actualmente en África (Martin, 2005). Existe evidencia fósil que demuestra que, durante el Cuaternario tardío, existían por lo menos 10 especies de megaherbívoros (> 10 000 kg) en Norteamérica, entre los que se incluían 3 proboscídeos, 4 perezosos gigantes, 2 armadillos gigantes y 1 camello, entre otros (figura 5). ...
... Este número de especies representa el doble de megaherbívoros que habitan actualmente en África. En el caso de Sudamérica esta diversidad de fauna de gran talla era aún más impresionante, ya que se ha registrado evidencia fósil de 25 especies de megaherbívoros (Martin, 2005). Lo anterior muestra que hasta hace unas cuantas decenas de miles de años, es decir, muy poco en la escala geológica, un paisaje "típico" en el continente americano incluía la presencia de una abundante variedad de mamíferos de talla similar o aún mayor que la de los tapires. ...
Chapter
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RESUMEN Junto con los caballos, asnos, cebras y rinocerontes, los tapires conforman el orden Perissodactyla, tristemente notorio porque una gran proporción de sus especies está en grave riesgo de desaparecer a consecuencia del impacto humano. El tapir centroamericano (Tapirus bairdii), única especie de este grupo que es nativa de México, se encuentra catalogada en peligro de ex-tinción debido al impacto humano. Un vistazo a la historia evolutiva de los tapires nos permite dimensionar lo que implicaría la desaparición de una especie como T. bairdii para la conservación de la biodiversidad en los niveles local y global. ABSTRACT Tapirs constitute the Perissodactyla order together with horses, asses, zebras and rhinos. This order is sadly characterized by being on the top of the list of mammal groups having a greater proportion of their species threatened with extinction. Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii), the only representative of this order in the country, is currently threatened due the impact of human activities. An examination of the evolutionary history of tapirs provides the needed context for the comprehension of the severe consequences the loss of this species would have in terms of the conservation of biodiversity at the local and global level.
... However, there are exceptions to these negative scenarios for large mammals in many areas of Europe and North America. After a long period of decline, which started with the first appearance of our species, Homo sapiens, outside Africa (11), mostly as an effect of human hunting (12)(13)(14), there has been a dramatic recovery in wildlife in Europe and North America during the past 50 years [e.g., (15)(16)(17)(18)]. This recovery is largely a result of protection from hunting, limitations on toxic waste release, changes in land management, and an increase in protected areas/reserves. ...
... The concept of rewilding was first formulated by Soulé and Noss (60) and Barlow (61) as a positive trajectory for conservation and evolution that, in addition to protection of species, also included restoration of the degenerated ecosystem of other nonmarginal species. It emerged from the gradual realization that humans throughout time, i.e., not only in recent centuries or millennia, but over tens of thousands of years, have depressed and exterminated many large species of birds and mammals [e.g., (11,62,63)]. Rewilding aims to enhance wilderness through supplementary release of wildlife species already present and through reintroduction of species formerly present. ...
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The recovery of many populations of large carnivores and herbivores in major parts of Europe and North America offers ecosystem services and opportunities for sustainable utilization of wildlife. Examples of services are hunting, meat, and skin, along with less invasive utilization such as ecotourism and wildlife spotting. An increasing number of studies also point out the ecosystem function, landscape engineering, and cascading effects of wildlife as values for human existence, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem resilience. Within this framework, the concept of rewilding has emerged as a means to add to the wilderness through either supplementary release of wildlife species already present or reintroduction of species formerly present in a certain area. The latter involves translocation of species from other geographical areas, releases from captivity, feralization, retro-breeding, or de-domestication of breeds for which the wild ancestor is extinct. While all these initiatives aim to reverse some of the negative human impacts on life on earth, some pose challenges such as conflicts of interest between humans and wildlife in, for example, forestry, agriculture, traffic, or disease dynamics (e.g., zoonosis). There are also welfare aspects when managing wildlife populations with the purpose to serve humans or act as tools in landscape engineering. These welfare aspects are particularly apparent when it comes to releases of animals handled by humans, either from captivity or translocated from other geographical areas. An ethical values clash is that translocation can involve suffering of the actual individual, while also contributing to reintroduction of species and reestablishment of ecological functions. This paper describes wildlife recovery in Europe and North America and elaborates on ethical considerations raised by the use of wildlife for different purposes, in order to find ways forward that are acceptable to both the animals and humans involved. The reintroduction ethics aspects raised are finally formulated in 10 guidelines suggested for management efforts aimed at translocating wildlife or reestablishing wilderness areas.
... A disproportionate number of large mammals (32 out of 37) weighed ≥44 kg (Meltzer, 2015). Hypotheses that account for their extinction are various: degradation and changes in habitat, slow reproductive rates (Koch and Barnosky, 2006), ambush blitzkrieg by humans (Barnosky, 1989;Martin, 2005), the loss of keystone species (Brook and Bowman, 2004), reduced genetic diversity (Lorenzen et al., 2011), extraterrestrial impact (Firestone et al., 2007), lethal pathogens unknown to their immune system (e.g. canine distemper, rinderpest, and leptospirosis) (Stevens, 1997), and climate change (Barnosky, 1989;Clark et al, 2012). ...
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The late Pleistocene of North America is characterized by vertebrate animals (mostly mammals weighing ≥ 44 kg) including Mammut americanum (American mastodon), Bison spp. (bison), Megalonyx jeffersonii, and Arctodus simus. Disarticulated skeletal elements of vertebrate fauna are frequently exposed on floodplain and gravel bar deposits after floodwaters retreat throughout the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. One unpublished vertebrate compilation, known as the Looper Collection, is stored at Delta State University. This collection consists of 546 vertebrate cranial and post-cranial elements from Mississippi River gravel bars that spanned 210.5 river km (130.8 miles) and 19 counties within three states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana) from Coahoma County Mississippi in the north to East Carroll Parish, Louisiana in the south. Mammals assigned to seven different orders are represented, as well as bone fragments of Aves, fin spines of Pylodictis olivaris, Ictiobus bubalus, and Teleostei, and shell fragments of Testudines (turtles and tortoises). This collection is significant because it contains remains of several species that have not been previously published from Mississippi: Canis dirus, Mammuthus columbi, and Paleolama mirifica. Other species including Trichechus manatus, Castor canadensis, Tapirus haysii, Tapirus veroensis, and Ursus americanuscontained in this collection represent rare Late Pleistocene occurrences within the southeastern United States. The abundance of assorted megafauna may be the result of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain serving as a migratory route and offering a variety of habitats.
... Without belaboring the details further, evolution produced human performers who optimized their abilities to such a remarkable degree that they quickly spread from their origin point on the East African savannahs to every corner of the world. Not only did they sweep across the globe, but they also hunted some of the most powerful megafauna of the late Pleistocene period into extinction (MacPhee, 2018;Martin, 2005). In the blink of an evolutionary eye, from the perspective of geological and biological time, Heinrich's (2002) "super endurance predators" clambered to the apex of the food chain. ...
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Since the origins of Homo sapiens 300,000 years ago, the quest to optimize human performance has shaped historical development. A macrohistorical perspective reveals that for 290,000 years the necessities of survival pushed hunter-forager cultures toward mass improvement of endurance capabilities and weapons skills. The agricultural revolution that began about 10,000 years ago changed those dynamics, focusing on enhancement for elite warriors while simultaneously diminishing the necessity of mass optimization. The multiple revolutions of modernity that began 500 years ago reanimated mass optimization while paradoxically removing physical enhancement from the realm of necessity through the increasing power of human-made motors rather than human locomotion. Microhistorical perspectives reveal that beyond the general patterns that shaped human cultures across time and place, the historical particularities vastly complicated optimization strategies. Employing macro- and microhistorical perspectives can enhance scientific understandings of optimal performance.
... This is confirmed by the estimate of the probable age of the Glen Canyon style, of being somewhere between 2400 and 5000 BP (Cole 2009: 45). Moreover, the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) is thought to have become extinct by 12,500 years BP, and any dates younger than 11,000 are not viewed as credible (Meltzer, Mead 1983, Haynes 1987, 1991, Fisher 1996, Fiedel 1999, Barnosky et al. 2004, Martin 2005, Waters, Stafford 2007, Haynes 2008, Faith, Surovell 2009, Surovell, Grund 2012, Louguet-Lefebvre 2013. Not only is it geologically impossible for the surface of the friable and rather porous Navajo sandstone of the site to have survived from Pleistocene times; the geological setting of the site renders such great age of the rock panel highly unlikely (Gillam, Wakeley 2013). ...
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Visual pareidolia occurs when meaningful patterns representing familiar objects are seen in what are in reality random or meaningless data. It is of significance to anthropology for two reasons: as a psychological phenomenon of the human visual system; and because of its important role in rock art interpretation. Once the brain has been conditioned to anticipate specific patterns, it tends to discover them with minimal stimulation, because most of the information processed by the human visual centre derives from within the brain. The creative pattern detection that constitutes rock art "interpretation" is effectively a projection of invented meaning onto mute marks on rock. The modern beholder's perception searches the motif for details resonating with his/her visual system, in the same way as pareidolia operates. It decides arbitrarily which aspects are naturalistic and which are not, and it adjudicates which of an image's aspects are diagnostic. Yet the brain of the modern beholder of rock art differs significantly from that of its creator, and the notion that rock art connoisseurs can somehow conjure up the emic meanings of rock art motifs from their own brains' past experiences is mistaken. This paper illustrates the involvement of pareidolia in rock art appreciation through a series of examples and attempts to explain these observations.
... Even over geologically short time intervals (millennia to tens of millennia), the distributions of vertebrates have been highly dynamic as evident through both paleontological and phylogenetic research (Mead et al. 2006, Oswald et al. 2017. Many species of birds and mammals became extinct on the American continents during the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition (PHT;~15 to 9 ka), which ended the last glacial interval and began the interglacial interval (the Holocene) in which we now live (Steadman and Martin 1984, Barnosky et al. 2004, Martin 2007. The PHT on American continents was a time of major change in climate and habitat; it also was when humans first arrived. ...
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Avian fossils give us a unique opportunity to assess changes through time in species diversity and distributions. We report a previously unstudied collection of ∼500 bird fossils from Banana Hole, New Providence Island, Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Based on comparisons with fossil sites of known age on Abaco, the species composition of the Banana Hole fossils suggests a late Pleistocene rather than Holocene age for the site, although this remains uncertain because of the inability to date the fossils radiometrically. The specimens represent 49 species (45 resident, 4 migratory), 25 of which had not been recorded before as fossils from Banana Hole. Among the 45 resident species, 4 are extinct and 17 others are extirpated from New Providence. Combining our data with those previously compiled from Banana Hole, 52 resident species of birds now are known from this site, among which 6 (12%) are extinct (a hawk [Buteo quadratus], eagle [Titanohierax gloveralleni], caracara [Caracara creightoni], barn-owl [Tyto pollens], thick-knee [Burhinus nanus], and snipe [Gallinago kakuki]), 18 (35%) are extirpated on New Providence but still live elsewhere, and 28 (54%) still occur on New Providence. The modern diversity and distribution of Bahamian birds reflects interrelated changes in climate, island size and isolation, and habitat during the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition (15,000 to 9,000 yr ago) as well as species lost since human arrival ∼1,000 yr ago.
... Such efforts have inspired similar approaches in the UK (Newton et al., 2009;Taylor, 2009), where the issue of re-wilding and its consequences is now recognised as having high policy relevance (Sutherland et al., 2006). Similarly, the concept of 'Pleistocene re-wilding' is currently being explored in both North and South America (Donlan et al., 2006;Galetti, 2004;Martin, 2005;Rubenstein et al., 2006). ...
... Prior to the megafaunal extinctions, South America had some 25 megaherbivore species weighing more than 1 000 kg, consisting of gomphotheres, camelids, ground sloths, glyptodonts and toxodontids. This compares with Africa's current total of six species over 1 000 kg (Martin 2005). At present, Baird's Tapir is South America's largest mammal and weighs 350 kg. ...
... This might raise the value of rare trophies (such as dangerous or hard to hunt animals) over the mere nutritional value. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that when Homo sapiens spread around the world, the first animals to disappear were large game (Martin, 2005). ...
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Language—often said to set human beings apart from other animals—has resisted explanation in terms of evolution. Language has—among others—two fundamental and distinctive features: syntax and the ability to express non-present actions and events. We suggest that the relation between this representation (of non-present action) and syntax can be analyzed as a relation between a function and a structure to fulfill this function. The strategy of the paper is to ask if there is any evidence of pre-linguistic communication that fulfills the function of communicating an absent action. We identify a structural similarity between understanding indexes of past actions of conspecifics (who did what to whom) and one of the simplest and most paradigmatic linguistic syntactic patterns – that of the simple transitive sentence. When a human being infers past events from an index (i.e., a trace, the conditions of a conspecifics or an animal, a constellation or an object) the interpreters’ comprehension must rely on concepts similar in structure and function to the ‘thematic roles’ believed to underpin the comprehension of linguistic syntax: in his or her mind the idea of a past action or event emerges along with thematic role-like concepts; in the case of the presentation of, e.g., a hunting trophy, the presenter could be understood to be an agent (subject) and the trophy a patient (direct object), while the past action killed is implied by the condition of the object and its possession by the presenter. We discuss whether both the presentation of a trophy and linguistic syntax might have emerged independently while having the same function (to represent a past action) or whether the presentation of an index of a deed could constitute a precursor of language. Both possibilities shed new light on early, and maybe first, language use.
... Considerable work has focused on the pattern of extinction that followed the migration of humans into Australia and the New World, with much of it focused on the issue of causation (e.g., Martin, 1967Martin, , 1984Barnosky et al., 2004;Lyons et al., 2004;Miller et al., 2005;Koch and Barnosky, 2006;Ripple and Van Valkenburgh, 2010;Barnosky et al., 2011;Zuo et al., 2013). Although still contentious, most scientists now agree that humans had a large contributing role to the terminal Pleistocene extinctions (Martin, 1967(Martin, , 1984(Martin, , 2005Martin and Steadman, 1999;Roberts Fig. 1. Trends in extinction and human population growth over the late Quaternary. ...
Article
The transition of hominins to a largely meat-based diet ∼1.8 million years ago led to the exploitation of other mammals for food and resources. As hominins, particularly archaic and modern humans, became increasingly abundant and dispersed across the globe, a temporally and spatially transgressive extinction of large-bodied mammals followed; the degree of selectivity was unprecedented in the Cenozoic fossil record. Today, most remaining large-bodied mammal species are confined to Africa, where they co-evolved with hominins. Here, using a comprehensive global dataset of mammal distribution, life history and ecology, we examine the consequences of ‘body size downgrading’ of mammals over the late Quaternary on fundamental macroecological patterns. Specifically, we examine changes in species diversity, global and continental body size distributions, allometric scaling of geographic range size with body mass, and the scaling of maximum body size with area. Moreover, we project these patterns toward a potential future scenario in which all mammals currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List are extirpated. Our analysis demonstrates that anthropogenic impact on earth systems predates the terminal Pleistocene and has grown as populations increased and humans have become more widespread. Moreover, owing to the disproportionate influence on ecosystem structure and function of megafauna, past and present body size downgrading has reshaped Earth's biosphere. Thus, macroecological studies based only on modern species yield distorted results, which are not representative of the patterns present for most of mammal evolution. Our review supports the concept of benchmarking the ‘Anthropocene’ with the earliest activities of Homo sapiens.
... The impact of humans on the natural fauna might thus be much older than is usually considered when focusing on the effects of industrialization (Martin, 2005) and recent habitat destruction (although these actions are also of great concern because they are ongoing). There is increasing evidence that current habitat fragmentation is strongly affecting the genetic structure of animal populations (Gerlach & Musolf, 2000;Kyle & Strobeck, 2001;Wang & Schreiber, 2001;Hirota et al., 2004;Keller et al., 2004). ...
Article
The genetic structure of forest animal species may allow the spatial dynamics of the forests themselves to be tracked. Two scales of change are commonly discussed: changes in forest distribution during the Quaternary, due to glacial/ interglacial cycles, and current fragmentation related to habitat destruction. However, anthropogenic changes in forest distribution may have started well before the Quaternary, causing fragmentation at an intermediate time scale that is seldom considered. To explore the relative role of these processes, the genetic structure of a forest species with narrow ecological preferences, the edible dormouse (Glis glis), was investigated in a set of samples covering a large part of its Palaearctic distribution. Strong and complex geographical structure was revealed from the use of microsatellite markers. This structure suggests that fragmentation occurred in several steps, progressively splitting the ancestral population into peripheral isolated ones. The fact that this structure postdates post-glacial recolonization, together with dating based on microsatellite data, supports the hypothesis that the differentiation was recent, starting around 9000 years ago, and took place stepwise, possibly up to Medieval times. This complements a classic phylogeographical interpretation based on the effect of past climate change, and supports the role of anthropogenic deforestation as a trigger of recent intraspecific differentiation. © 2019 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
... To some ecologists and conservation biologists this idea may be anathema; in a best-case scenario it could be seen as little more than an attempt to create a small-scale version of Jurassic Park, and in one worst-case scenario it runs the risk of introducing species that may become invasive and have unintended negative effects on the ecosystem. Recently, the use of ecological analogue species to recreate the Pleistocene megafauna in South and North America, and in the Sibirian Tundra has been the subject of a heated debate (Galetti 2004;Martin 2005;Zimov 2005;Donlan et al. 2005Donlan et al. , 2006Rubenstein et al. 2006;Caro in press), partly due to the complexity of the involved ecosystems, and partly because of the vast areas needed to sustain populations of the suggested large-bodied animals. In contrast, due to their relatively small size and relative simplicity of their native ecosystems, oceanic islands may be ideal systems in which to empirically explore the use of ecological analogue species in a conservation management context (Jones 2002;Steadman & Martin 2003). ...
Article
In my thesis I studied aspects of ecology, evolution, and conservation of plant-animal interactions on islands. My main study site was the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is a biodiversity hotspot, with many endemic plant and animal species and high rates of extinction. Chapter 1 reviewed the global distribution, ecology and evolution of coloured nectar, a rare floral trait that is particularly widespread on islands (including Mauritius) and insular mainland habitats such as mountains. Once thought to be restricted to three endemic plants in Mauritius, we showed that this is not the case: coloured nectar is found in more than 60 species from many plant families around the world. We also discussed the evolution of coloured nectar, and speculated on its ecological function. In Chapter 2, we experimentally tested a hypothesis from Chapter 1 about the possible ecological function of coloured nectar as a signal for floral reward. We used endemic flower-visiting geckos in Mauritius as our study organism, and found strong support for the signal-hypothesis, with geckos strongly preferring coloured over clear nectar. Thus, the chapter – at least partly – solved the mystery of the Mauritian coloured nectar. Chapter 3 demonstrated that the endemic Mauritian plant Trochetia blackburniana (Malvaceae) is pollinated by the endemic Phelsuma cepediana gecko, but that this interaction is structured by the indirect effects of proximity to patches of Pandanus (Pandanaceae) plants – a favoured microhabitat of the geckos. Proximity to Pandanus patches lead to higher gecko visitation rates and a subsequently higher fruitset in T. blackburniana. Some studies have shown how two or more flowering plant species can positively or negatively affect each other’s reproductive success through indirect effects mediated by shared pollinators. In contrast, Chapter 3 gives a unique example of a non-flowering plant affecting the reproductive success of a neighbouring flowering plant. Chapters 4 and 5 together formed a detailed study of the pollination and the seed dispersal ecology of the critically endangered endemic Mauritian tree Syzygium mamillatum (Myrtaceae). Chapter 4 showed how weeding of invasive plant species can influence the reproductive success of S. mamillatum in the weeded habitat, based on differences in pollinator behaviour between weeded and unweeded sites. In Chapter 5, we provided the first experimental evidence of the importance of the Janzen-Connell model for seedling establishment on oceanic islands, and demonstrated how ecological analogue species can be used to resurrect extinct seed dispersal interactions. Chapters 6 and 7 comprised a study of the pollination and seed dispersal interactions of another critically endangered Mauritian endemic plant, Roussea simplex (Rousseaceae), and how an invasive ant affects both interactions detrimentally. Chapter 6 showed that endemic Phelsuma cepediana geckos currently are the sole pollinators and seed dispersers of R. simplex, and Chapter 7 experimentally demonstrated that a presence of the invasive ant Technomyrmex albipes at R. simplex flowers or fruits scare away the geckos, thus rendering the plant without pollinators and seed dispersers. In Chapter 8 we documented the strong negative effects of a coffee pest species on the reproductive success of the endangered Mauritian endemic plant Bertiera zaluzania (Rubiaceae). Our study highlighted another perspective to the ongoing scientific debate about coffee as a cash crop and the maintenance of biodiversity in the tropics. Most current studies focus on the benefits that coffee plants can derive from nearby natural habitats, and neglect to investigate the potential detrimental effects of coffee pest species invading these natural habitats. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG In dieser Dissertation präsentiere ich Studien, die sich mit der Ökologie und der Evolution, als auch mit Aspekte des Naturschutzes und der Erhaltung der biologischen Vielfalt von Tier-Pflanze-Interaktionen auf ozeanischen Inseln befassen. Mein Hauptuntersuchungsstandort ist die Insel Mauritius im Indischen Ozean. Mauritius besitzt einen ausgeprägten Endemismus und eine hohe Aussterberate und wird daher als ‘Biodiversitäts-Hotspot’ bezeichnet. Kapitel 1 umfasst ein Review über die globale Verbreitung farbigen Nektars, eines seltenen Blütenmerkmals, das besonders häufig in Pflanzen auf Inseln (u.a. auf Mauritius) und in insulären Habitaten (wie z. B. Bergspitzen) anzutreffen ist. Wir zeigten, dass dieses Blütenmerkmal in mehr als 60 Arten aus vielen verschiedenen Familien rund um den Globus vertreten ist. Wir diskutierten die Evolution farbigen Nektars und spekulierten über mögliche ökologische Funktionen. In Kapitel 2 untersuchten wir mit Hilfe eines Experiments eine aus Kapitel 1 abgeleitete Hypothese: farbiger Nektar dient als ein Signal für das Vorhandensein von Blütenprodukten. Um diese Hypothese zu testen, offerierten wir endemischen Taggeckos in Mauritius gefärbten und klaren Nektar. Die Wahl fast ausschliesslich gefärbten Nektars unterstützt die Signal-Hypothese. Unsere Veröffentlichung trägt dazu bei, das Geheimnis um mauritischen farbigen Nektar zu lüften. Wir beweisen in Kapitel 3, dass die endemische Pflanzenart Trochetia blackburniana (Malvaceae) von der endemischen Taggeckoart Phelsuma cepediana bestäubt wird. Diese Tier-Pflanze-Interaktion wird jedoch durch indirekte Effekte beinflusst, die im Zusammenhang mit den benachbarten Pflanzenarten der Gattung Panadanus (Schraubenbaum; Pandanaceae) stehen. Pandanusarten gehören zu den geeigneten Lebensräumen der Geckos, und T. blackburniana konnte höhere Besuchsraten und einen höheren Fruchtansatz verzeichnen, wenn es in der Nähe von Pandanus wuchs. Einige Studien konnten zeigen, dass der Fortpflanzungserfolg zweier benachbarte Pflanzenarten indirekt, durch gemeinsame Bestäuber, von der Anwesenheit der zweiten Art beeinflusst werden kann. Im Gegensatz dazu zeigten wir in Kaiptel 3 das einmalige Beispiel, dass eine nicht-blühende Pflanze eine blühende Pflanze indirekt beeinflusst. Kapitel 4 und 5 umfassten detaillierte Studien über die Bestäubungsbiologie und Mechanismen der Samenverbreitung der stark gefärdeten endemischen Baumart Syzygium mamillatum (Myrtaceae). Kapitel 4 beschreibte, wie sich das Entfernen von eingeführten, invasiven Pflanzenarten auf den Fortpflanzungserfolg von S. mamillatum in restaurierten Gebieten auswirkt, ein Unterschied, der auf das Verhalten von Vögeln als Bestäuber zurückgeführt werden kann. In Kapitel 5 lieferten wir den ersten experimentellen Beweis für die Wichtigkeit des Janzen-Connell Modells über die Etablierung von Keimlingen auf einer ozeanischen Insel. Zudem demonstrierten wir, dass analoge Arten, die in ihrer ökologischen Funktion den ehemaligen, jetzt ausgestorbenen Arten nahestehen, als geeignete Samenverbreiter von S. mamillatum in Frage kommen. Die Kapitel 6 und 7 beschrieben Bestäubung und Samenverbreitung der stark gefährdeten, endemischen Pflanzenart Roussea simplex (Rousseaceae), und wie eine eingeführte Ameisenart negative Folgen auf die Reproduktion dieser Pflanze haben kann. In Kapitel 6 zeigten wir, dass der endemische Taggecko Phelsuma cepediana der einzige Bestäuber und Samenverbreiter von R. simplex ist. Kapitel 7 hingegen beweist experimentell, dass die Präsenz der invasiven Ameisenart Technomyrmex albipes auf Blüten und Früchten von R. simplex Taggeckos verscheucht, was zu einer Reduktion der Bestäubung und Samenverbreitung bei R. simplex geführt hat. In Kapitel 8 dokumentieren wir einen erheblichen, negativen Einfluss eines Kaffeeschädlings auf den Fortpflanzungserfolg der gefährdeten mauritischen Pflanzenart Bertiera zaluzania (Rubiaceae). Unsere Arbeit trägt eine weitere Perspektive zu der anhaltenden, wissenschaftlen Debatte bei, die sich mit dem Einfluss von Kaffeeplantagen auf die Erhaltung der biologischer Vielfalt in den Tropen beschäftigt. Die meisten Studien befassen sich mit den Vorteilen des Kaffeeanbaus in der unmittelbaren Umgebung von natürlichen Habitaten, wenige Arbeiten jedoch untersuchen die nachteiligen Effekte, die eingeführte Kaffeeschädlinge auf den benachbarten Lebensraum ausüben können.
... This fascinating skill is a unique human speciality (while other animals have been known to throw, none can do so with the speed and precision of a trained human) and it has played a major part in our evolutionary success (e.g. Bingham, 1999;Calvin, 1983;Darlington, 1975;Isaac, 1987;Knusel, 1992;Martin, 2005;Meltzer, 2009;Shea, 2006). It is the perfect testbed for studying affordances and the perception of affordances, and we will review our work on these questions here. ...
... Graham and Lundelius, 1984;Guthrie, 1984;Graham and Mead, 1987;Grayson and Meltzer, 2003;Nogués-Bravo et al., 2010), and some others blame human activities (i.e. Martin, 1973Martin, , 1984Wesler, 1981;Miller et al., 1999;Holdaway and Jacomb, 2000;Roberts et al., 2001;Fiedel and Haynes, 2004;Lyons et al., 2004;Martin, 2005;Surovell et al., 2005;Haynes, 2007Haynes, , 2009Gillespie, 2008;Surovell and Waguespack, 2008). A third opinion proposes disease as a cause of this event (Edwards, 1967;MacPhee and Marx, 1997); although the various models are debated (Barnosky et al., 2004;Koch and Barnosky, 2006;Owen-Smith, 1987). ...
Article
Enigmatic catastrophic events, involving mass extinction of life forms, have been recorded several times in the Earth history. In many cases, the causes and mechanisms of these major and minor mass extinctions can be traced via the fossil record. A synthesis of the available information is herein made on the major catastr ophic events through Earth history to understand the processes in the past and present with speculation into the future. The selective nature of major mass extinctions from the fossil record indicates the vanishing of s pecific taxa and the survival of others. The sudden extinction of organisms is almost accompanied by a grad ual disappearance of other forms, thus excluding any single cause for the killing mechanism. Consequently, the multiple causes’ scenario is the plausible mechanism responsible for the vanishing of biota through the history of the fossil record. On the other hand, the recovery of biota after mass extinctions is also an intrigui ng phenomenon, in which some groups had rapid recovery whereas others took a long time for a revival. B ased on multiple pieces of evidence from Africa, the end Permian extinction and the extinction of some Qu aternary megafauna may be related to severe drought. In addition, the current mass extinction is progressive ly underway; arising from multiple causes and mainly related to anthropogenic activities, widespread diseas es, as well as the possibility of extraterrestrial impacts. Reevaluation of the magnitude of the extinction eve nt is urgently needed to judge if these extinctions represent natural episodic fluctuation of the biodiversity c urve or unexpected catastrophe. Analyses of invertebrate occurrence data revealed that taxa originated duri ng stressful crises intervals have a wider geographic range size and lower extinction rates. Moreover, specie s durations, geographic range, and diversity are influencing each other. In addition, the ecological traits of a species may control their extinction pattern and recovery speed-limit. Furthermore, the wide geographical distribution provides potentially to survive mass extinctions. Therefore, narrower geographic-range taxa are facing higher extinction risk.
... Indeed, quantitative analysis of the existing radiocarbon chronology are consistent with a more or less synchronous loss of all genera at this time (Faith and Surovell, 2009). The timing of the extinctions shortly follows (at least over geological timescales) the arrival of the earliest Homo sapiens in North America, a temporal correspondence that played a key role Paul Martin's (1967Martin's ( , 1984Martin's ( , 2005 formulation of the overkill hypothesis, which proposes that human hunting was directly responsible for extinctions in North America. Similar parallels between the timing of extinctions and human arrival elsewhere led him to extend this hypothesis to account for the demise of the planet's large mammals across the globe. ...
Chapter
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As recently as ~50,000 years ago, a great diversity of large-bodied mammalian herbivores (species >44 kg) occupied nearly all of Earth’s terrestrial realms. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, the vast majority of these species had disappeared by the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary ~11,700 years ago, either from human impacts, climate change, or some combination of both. Though research has focused on the causes of the late Quaternary extinctions since the nineteenth century, only recently has attention shifted to understanding their downstream consequences for the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. In this Chapter, we synthesize the available paleoecological datasets bearing on late Quaternary extinctions and corresponding ecosystem change in Australia, North America, and northern Eurasia. We show that across these regions, the disappearance of large herbivorous mammals had far-reaching impacts, including enhanced fire regimes and vegetation state shifts, reductions in seed dispersal and near-extinction of large fruiting plants, downsizing and diversity loss in invertebrate communities relying on herbivore dung, and the collapse of predator guilds relying on large mammal prey. Collectively, these late Quaternary paleoecological lessons emphasize that large herbivores are cornerstones of ecosystems and play major roles in both maintaining stability and driving state shifts. We conclude our Chapter by discussing how these lessons feed into conservation biology today and efforts to mitigate the effects of continued range contraction and extinction of large mammals over the next century.
... Island records have subsequently often been considered ideal models for understanding how Pleistocene extinctions unfolded on the continents (14)(15)(16)(17)(18)(19), despite the acknowledged and significant differences that exist between island and continental ecosystems (3,20). Today, island extinctions are overwhelmingly interpreted ...
Article
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Significance We provide global assessment of the possible link between Pleistocene hominin arrival and island extinction. The existing records on islands around the world do not support a significant and detrimental impact on island biotas following island colonization prior to the Holocene. This suggests that models using island extinctions as evidence in support of anthropogenic megafaunal overhunting, or as extensions of continental-level extinctions, need to be reconsidered.
... Indeed, it is the (re)introduction of fauna, especially of megafauna, that represents the more active form of management of ecological succession in which the goal is often the reconstruction of ecosystems and the replacement of the original keystone species where these are now extinct (Donlan et al., 2006;Kintisch, 2015;Monbiot, 2014). For example, proposals to use Indian elephants as a substitute for the mammoths of Pleistocene North America (Martin, 2005). Nevertheless, as Svenning et al. (2016) highlight while there is some evidence to suggest that trophic cascades may be restored via species reintroductions and ecological replacements, the effects of the introduction of megafauna are also affected by trophic complexity and interactions with landscape settings and human activities. ...
Article
Rewilding is an increasingly significant normative concept in biological conservation, environmental planning and urban greenspace studies. Originally developed in relation to ecological restoration theory and practice the term has developed over time and has come to be used in a range of environmental discourses. Along with other ecosystem services tourism provides a major economic justification for rewilding, although specific studies on rewilding and tourism are limited. In introducing this special issue of Journal of Ecotourism on tourism and rewilding attention is given to the main definitions and approaches to rewilding, their application, and some of the issues that emerge, including contestation over not only how rewilding is framed but also the implications of the (re)introduction of wild animals. Rewilding therefore provides new opportunities to examine the nature-culture relationship and the ethics, management and policies associated with tourism's embeddedness in ecological restoration practices and the framing of the wild.
... Notwithstanding recent work on de-extinction, to which I will turn in the next section, the Pleistocene megafauna appear to be gone for good. But as Josh Donlan and colleagues (2005;Sandom et al. 2013) pointed out, the extinct megafauna of the western hemisphere have relatively close evolutionary cousins in Africa and Asia (compare also Martin andBurney 1999, Galetti 2004). And some of those existing species are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. ...
... The overkill hypothesis is widely embraced in popular science writing and some sectors of the scientific community, especially among ecologists (see Nagaoka et al., 2018). Moreover, a series of specific proposals for restoring or "rewilding" current landscapes are founded on the presumption that humans alone were responsible for the late Pleistocene extinctions (e.g., Donlan et al., 2006;Martin, 2005). However, many archaeologists and Quaternary scientists (e.g., paleontologists) tend to favor multi-causal arguments where climate change is often afforded the most significant role (reviewed in Grayson and Meltzer, 2002;Nagaoka et al., 2018). ...
... Thus, the scenario and role of the first settlers in the continent may have been magnified as regards the excessive hunting of mega and large mammals, with the minimization of the small species hunting and recollection of animal and vegetable products (Sellards et al., 1947;Wormington, 1957). In this sense, and together with the progression of a programme of systematic archaeological excavations in sites of first Americans from the great North America plateaus, in the 1970s the main ideas about human-megafauna interactions were stemmed in three hypothesis lines: 1) That of an intensive human exploitation of the Pleistocene fauna which provoked the fast extinction by "Overkill or blitzkrieg" (Martin, 1973(Martin, , 2005, here the humans could have been the main cause of extinctions; 2) a scenario of scarce interaction of humans hunting those mega faunas, and where it is understood that the deep postglacial environmental changes were mainly responsible for the fauna extinctions (Bryan, 1978;Guthrie, 1984). Finally, 3) where the humans may have been another factor in the extinction process but not the main one. ...
Article
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This work presents an updated revision of the information about Pleistocene fauna records in archeological sites of the Pampa and Patagonian regions of South America. The purpose is to assess the role played by humans within the extinction process of Pleistocene mammals in the South Cone and the effects that the disappearance of Pleistocene large mammals had in human populations which colonized both regions. This is based on the theory of “Broken Zig-Zag”, which considers that the process was gradual in time and in different species, taking place between 15 Ka BP and 8.5 Ka BP in Patagonia and during a longer period, until ca. 7.5 Ka BP in Pampa. For this aim it was considered all those sites with accurate chronological and taxonomic information about the presence of extinct species of mega and large mammals of xenarthrans, camelids, equids and carnivores. Thus, the work is focused on three analytical lines: regional analysis of radiocarbon records of first and last taxonomic appearance, ecology and etiology of species with archeological record and variability of associations of the archaeofauna with material culture. We discuss how the first humans took possession of Pampa and Patagonian regions during and after the last part of the continental extinction process. Thus, there is a contribution with new hypotheses about the differential use of the extinct fauna in both regions. This interdisciplinary approach of social and environmental agency has not been considered in the specialized bibliography so far; therefore novel information is given for interpreting the way in which humans took possession of the fauna, not only as subsistence resources but also as other important agents in the socio-economic and symbolic relationship of humans with the landscape. On the whole, the final result is that the gregarious species of large herbivores (camelids) were the most important resources for hunter-gatherers from the beginning of human colonization. The extinct fauna influenced subsistence complementarily, though it played an important role in the social and symbolic spheres.
... The end-Pleistocene events, including climatic perturbations (Younger Dryas cooling) [39][40][41] and megafaunal extinctions (disappearance of mammoths, ground sloths, etc.) [42,43] have attracted significant attention of geologists for decades because of their 'sudden' character and unclear causes. A new round of debates began at the end of the 2000s, when Firestone et al. [44] proposed a hypothesis of the end-Pleistocene extraterrestrial impact to explain a chain of the noted events. ...
Article
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Progress in science is significantly influenced by the treatment of information generated by the international research community. A relevant problem is the unawareness of scientists regarding more widely published works and ideas. This problem is illustrated with two examples from geological studies. In the first case, the citation analysis implies that many geologists still use outdated reconstructions regarding eustasy for the Mesozoic–Cenozoic, and important updates are missed. This erroneous practice leads to the accumulation of questionable regional interpretations. In the second case, it is found that studies in which the end-Pleistocene extraterrestrial impact hypothesis was first proposed are cited more prolifically than contrary studies using arguments against this hypothesis.A kind of 'abandonment' of this still debatable but potentially important hypothesis also is found. The root cause behind such a patterns of unawareness by the research community is explained by insufficient attention being paid by today’s geologists to critical literature reviewing, the rare use of bibliometric approaches, and, more generally, limited theorizing (especially in comparison to social sciences). A shift to full-scale theoretical geology is proposed, which would also help to minimize any negative consequences brought on by unawareness of a more global information base.
... active rewilding) or follow a hands-off approach (i.e. passive rewilding (Martin, 2005;Svenning et al., 2016)). ...
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Large and ecologically functioning steppe complexes have been lost historically across the globe, but recent land‐use changes may allow the reversal of this trend in some regions. We aimed to develop and map indicators of changing human influence using satellite imagery and historical maps, and to use these indicators to identify areas for broad‐scale steppe rewilding. We mapped decreasing human influence indicated by cropland abandonment, declining grazing pressure and rural outmigration in the steppes of northern Kazakhstan. We did this by processing ~5,500 Landsat scenes to map changes in cropland between 1990 and 2015, and by digitizing Soviet topographic maps and examining recent high‐resolution satellite imagery to assess the degree of abandonment of >2,000 settlements and >1,300 livestock stations. We combined this information into a human influence index (HI), mapped changes in HI to highlight where rewilding might take place and assessed how this affected the connectivity of steppe habitat. Across our study area, about 6.2 million ha of cropland were abandoned (30.5%), 14% of all settlements were fully and 81% partly abandoned, and 76% of livestock stations were completely dismantled between 1990 and 2015, suggesting substantially decreasing human pressure across vast areas. This resulted in increased connectivity of steppe habitat. The steppes of Eurasia are experiencing massively declining human influence, suggesting large‐scale passive rewilding is taking place. Many of these areas are now important for the connectivity of the wider steppe landscape and can provide habitat for endangered megafauna such as the critically endangered saiga antelope. Yet, this window of opportunity may soon close, as recultivation of abandoned cropland is gaining momentum. Our aggregate human influence index captures key components of rewilding and can help to devise strategies for fostering large, connected networks of protected areas in the steppe.
... In opposition to his previous characterization of African Pleistocene extinctions, Martin (1984:382-383) remarked that "the outstanding feature of the African Pleistocene is the astonishing number of large animals which survived." According to his revised thinking, this reflected long-term coevolution between hominin hunters and their prey (see also Martin, 2005). ...
Article
A growing body of literature proposes that our ancestors contributed to large mammal extinctions in Africa long before the appearance of Homo sapiens, with some arguing that premodern hominins (e.g., Homo erectus) triggered the demise of Afri-ca's largest herbivores and the loss of carnivoran diversity. Though such arguments have been around for decades, they are now increasingly accepted by those concerned with biodiversity decline in the present-day, despite the near complete absence of critical discussion or debate. To facilitate that process, here we review ancient anthropogenic extinction hypotheses and critically examine the data underpinning them. Broadly speaking, we show that arguments made in favor of ancient anthro-pogenic extinctions are based on problematic data analysis and interpretation, and are substantially weakened when extinctions are considered in the context of long-term evolutionary, ecological, and environmental changes. Thus, at present, there is no compelling empirical evidence supporting a deep history of hominin impacts on Africa's faunal diversity.
... To this end, different interventions have been suggested to promote the sustainability of environments and economic systems. Eco-centric interventions may focus on reconstituting a physically material environment (Leonardi 2012), such as Pleistocene rewilding of ecological communities in North America (Martin 2005). At the other end of this range we can find centralized, eco-technic (Guy and Farmer 2001) policies designed to mitigate environmental degradation through the creation of sociomaterial organizations such as carbon markets, in which physical material (carbon) and the social are mutually constituted (Latour 2004, Orlikowski andScott 2008;Bansal and Knox-Hayes 2013). ...
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Sustainable development and built heritage are oft-naturalized hegemonic discourses of the dominant social class. However, under the lens of critical sociomateriality, these categories destabilize – and in Brexit-era London, epicenter of a financial and technological capitalist circulatory space, “all that is solid melts” into the scopal regime of London’s View Management Framework (LVMF). Analyzing media discourse of Southwark’s Strata SE1 - billed London’s first ‘sustainable tower’ - and adaptive reuse of the historically preserved Lambeth Water Tower, I argue that these structures constitute ‘interface objects’ in a broader relational geography imbricating physical material, social objects, gentrification and the naturalized epistemologies of hegemonic development within London’s skyline itself. I offer a reading of critical sociomateriality which illuminates rhythms of daily life within spatial-technological systems of energy provision, urban metabolic processes, as well as “hegemonic premiums,” what Richard Barras terms expected return on symbolic capital vis-à-vis the dominant panopticism of the LVMF. This paper contributes a theorization of critical sociomateriality, positing a third path between critical realism and agential realism examining strategies and tactics for inhabiting, maintaining, and interfacing through London’s skyline in an unequal capitalist system marked by dissensus over runaway development, social precarity, and inequality in lived experiences of the urban environment.
... active rewilding) or follow a hands-off approach (i.e. passive rewilding (Martin, 2005;Svenning et al., 2016)). ...
Article
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Large and ecologically functioning steppe complexes have been lost historically across the globe, but recent land‐use changes may allow the reversal of this trend in some regions. We aimed to develop and map indicators of changing human influence using satellite imagery and historical maps, and to use these indicators to identify areas for broad‐scale steppe rewilding.
... The more moderate factions of rewilding disagree with each other regarding what consti tutes the "predisturbance" landscape. Is it, for example, The Columbian Curtain pre-1492 to which one should look for re creating species configurations (Martin 2005), or do we need to go further back in time to an anarcho-prirnitive landscape that was wholly devoid of human settlement? Others contend that such endorsements miss the point of rewilding, which is not to impose any single predetermined state on the ecosys tem, but rather to unleash its autonomy (Hobbs and Cramer 2008 Rewilding has triggered a lively discussion among environ mental ethicists and ecologists regarding the extent to which humans should interfere with the processes of rewilding. ...
Article
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Since the late Pleistocene, large-bodied mammals have been extirpated from much of Earth. Although all habitable continents once harbored giant mammals, the few remaining species are largely confined to Africa. This decline is coincident with the global expansion of hominins over the late Quaternary. Here, we quantify mammalian extinction selectivity, continental body size distributions, and taxonomic diversity over five time periods spanning the past 125,000 years and stretching approximately 200 years into the future. We demonstrate that size-selective extinction was already under way in the oldest interval and occurred on all continents, within all trophic modes, and across all time intervals. Moreover, the degree of selectivity was unprecedented in 65 million years of mammalian evolution. The distinctive selectivity signature implicates hominin activity as a primary driver of taxonomic losses and ecosystem homogenization. Because megafauna have a disproportionate influence on ecosystem structure and function, past and present body size downgrading is reshaping Earth's biosphere.
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The UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration signifies the ambition to move beyond a defensive focus on biodiversity protection towards a proactive agenda of restoring ecosystems to generate value for people and nature. The international nature regime, based on the linked concepts of biodiversity and sustainable development, has achieved much. However, its institutions are built on a ‘compositional’ approach to ecology that ‘locks in’ arbitrary ecological baselines and constrains an ambitious approach to ecosystem restoration. Rewilding and the wider field of restoration ecology foreground the dynamic nature of ecosystems, the need to consider system function and the importance of trophic networks for ecosystem recovery. Rewilding science extends these new directions with a focus on restoring the functional effects of large megafauna and random biotic and abiotic disturbance. I argue that historic processes of institutional reductionism, which enabled the construction of a strong protective biodiversity regime, have created institutions that lack the flexibility and innovation culture needed to create new policy and practice to support the recovery of ecosystem integrity and open‐ended restoration processes such as rewilding. Given this, we need to initiate ordered and effective processes of institutional redesign. To this end, I have proposed five actions for discussion, namely: (a) adopt and embed a positive, hopeful and empowering narrative of nature recovery; (b) create ‘nature recovery innovation zones’, where existing policy and regulations are relaxed and new approaches are developed and tested; (c) develop functional classifications of nature to support the design of ‘new generation’ policy instruments; (d) create markets for ecosystem recovery based on units of ecosystem change to support the emergence of a nature recovery land economy; and (e) introduce programs of professional training in the science, principles and opportunities of ecosystem recovery at all levels in government and non‐government conservation agencies. The world of 2050 will be very different from that of today. We have extremely well‐educated and skilled younger generations, with the motivation and ability to redesign nature institutions. It is time to act and empower them. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog. The world of 2050 will be very different from that of today. We have extremely well‐educated and skilled younger generations, with the motivation and ability to redesign nature institutions. It is time to act and empower them. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.
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This study examines pre-eminent Turkish cartoonist Fırat Yaşa’s graphic novel Tepe (The Hill), first published in 2016. Set in the prehistoric period in what is now the Göbeklitepe archaeological site in Turkey, the graphic novel revolves around a friendship between a man and a deer. This study offers examples of Turkish graphic novel literature and varied illustrated books as frames of reference to better understand the symbols and cultural practices concerning man/animal relationships that influence the story. It also explores the role that Göbeklitepe plays as a place, period, and architectural style in man/animal encounters, illustrating how the pillars/columns and the carving found there are reinterpreted as motifs for death of all life forms. The novel’s illustrations depicting the entanglement of humans and nature emphasise that no one, not man, animals, or animalistic man, is above being vulnerable. The novel disrupts the visually and verbally human-centred perspective, both by portraying various experiences of different species and by emphasising the uncanny ritualistic performances set in one of the oldest sanctuaries ever to be discovered. As such, this graphic novel is an illustrative example of ecological inquiry via cultural heritage with an emphasis on the evolving relations between man and animals.
Article
We understand our time as one in which human culture remakes nature. But Japanese and Euro‐American primatologists have come to question whether humans are the only primates capable of culture. Chimpanzee ethnographers observe different chimpanzee communities which share much of their lives with different human communities. The resulting diversity of cultures has become the eye through which all scientific claims about chimpanzee nature must pass. The practices constituting cultural primatology, however, turn out to be as much about knowledge as about care. Wild chimpanzees and their cultures teeter on the brink of extinction as human cultural activities destroy their habitats. Cultural primatology reanimates anthropology's original 18th‐century question of human nature in the 21st‐century context of the Anthropocene: if it is not simply culture, then what has enabled modern humans to radically transform their environments and to outcompete other primate cultures and species? How should we evaluate and narrate the story of our savage success?
Poster
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Studies on domestication reveal the parallel evolution of dogs and humans. While free-ranging dogs may represent a window to the early stage of domestication, pet-companion dogs can reflect some essential consequences. The multiple debates, different perspectives, and difficulty of conjugating science to good practices has resulted in some critical confusion on the perception of dogs, and adversely impacted approaches to dog parenting, dog training, and dog behaviour assessment. While many features of the dog domestication are still in a grey zone, we need to invest more resources in helping people and the community to understand their relationship with dogs from an evolutionary perspective, to support them reframing the value of dogs for human societies. Obviously, more efforts in conjugating knowledge on the parallel evolution of dogs and humans to good practices are required. Additionally, the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the massive lockdown have tremendously impacted the lives of people and animals worldwide, including companion dogs and free-ranging dogs. Changes in the ecology and behaviour of free-ranging and wild animals have been observed, and notable gain for the environment occurred. The significant event re-directs the attention on the need to reframe and leverage the dog-human alliance, recalls the concept of rewilding, and fosters reconsiderations on the impact humans have on other species, the ecosystem, and the climate as well. Keywords: Domestication; Dogs; COVID-19; Rewilding; Anthropocene.
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Ecosystems are under tremendous pressure due to the expansion of human population and urbanization. This is clearly evidenced by the extinction of many important plants and animals and the presence of others on endangered or threatened lists. Many ecosystems have been so transformed by human activities that they have become new altered systems such as urban ecosystems. Many unique ecosystems, including wetlands, coral reefs, tropical rainforests, and permafrost environments, are under extreme threats due to human-induced climate change, pollution, and overdevelopment. Simple, hard and/or expensive, and innovative and/or life-changing approaches that individuals can take to protect and preserve ecosystems are presented.
Book
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Britain's lynx are missing, and they have been for more than a thousand years. Why have they gone? And might they come back? A mere 15,000 years ago, Britain was a very different place – home to lions, lynx, bears, wolves, bison and many more megafauna. But as the climate changed and human populations expanded, changing habitats and wiping out wildlife, most of the British megafauna disappeared. Will we ever be able to bring these mammals back? And if it's possible, should we? In The Missing Lynx, palaeontologist Ross Barnett uses case studies, new fossil discoveries, biomolecular evidence and more to paint a picture of these lost species, and to explore the significance of their disappearance in ecological terms. He also discusses how the Britons these animals shared their lives with might have viewed them, and questions why some survived while others vanished. Barnett also looks in detail at the realistic potential of reintroductions, rewilding and even of resurrection, both in Britain and overseas, from the innovative Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve to the revolutionary Pleistocene Park in Siberia, which has already seen progress in the revival of 'mammoth steppe' grassland. With the world going through a 'sixth extinction' caused by widespread habitat destruction, climate change and an ever-growing human population, this timely book explores the spaces that extinction has left unfilled, in Britain and elsewhere. By understanding why some of our most charismatic animals are gone, we can look to a brighter future, perhaps with some of these missing beasts returned to the land on which they once lived and died.
Article
This paper reviews the history of human economic activity from the time Homo sapiens appeared to the present. The first aim is to provide a coherent narrative of the economic history of this period. The second aim is to quantify economic activities where time series data is available and to use economic theory to explain the trends and turning points. It examines the history of three central time series – the aggregate human population, output per capita and human‐induced species extinctions. It concludes with some brief observations on the contribution of Big Economic History to Big Human History.
Article
Evidence that human societies built on agricultural subsistence have been inherently ecologically unsustainable highlights the value in exploring whether any pre-agricultural subsistence approaches were ecologically sustainable or nearly so. The land management practices of some hunter-gatherer societies have been portrayed as sustainable, even beneficial. Research suggests such practices may fruitfully inform contemporary land management. As a human subsistence foundation, however, they may not have been ecologically sustainable. Figuring centrally in the late Pleistocene shift from immediate-return to delayed-return hunting and gathering, they enabled population growth, helped make possible the development of agriculture, and appear to have caused early environmental degradation. Consistent with this argument is research locating the origins of the Anthropocene near the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary, as societies were taking greater control of food production. It appears then that immediate-return hunting and gathering, which involved little or no land management, was the human lifeway most closely approaching ecological sustainability. Wider recognition of this idea would assist in understanding and addressing today’s ecological challenges.
Chapter
Since the close of the Pleistocene, humans have altered the planet through, in part, agriculture, settlement, and industrial activities. This alteration has accelerated in the last century to the point that we have transformed basic natural environmental systems and we now live in a changed time called the Anthropocene. One of the most important cycles that we have altered is the carbon cycle which is partially responsible for regulating our temperature on the planet. Due to the burning of fossil fuels, we now have more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere than in any other time in human history. Climate scientists predict that temperatures will increase in the coming decades and that there will be concomitant changes to the land surface that involve rising sea levels, greater temperature fluctuations, and altered ecosystems. Three case studies from the small island states of the Pacific, from Midwestern cities of United States, and from Madagascar and Mozambique are presented that show that we are already feeling the impacts of climate change.
Chapter
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Large mammalian herbivores and the ecosystems in which they live are intimately connected through the food choices the animals make. Herbivores eat plants and plants have evolved mechanisms to defend themselves from being eaten. This arms race between plants and vertebrate herbivores continues to this day. The outcomes of this arms race are seen in the morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations of large mammalian herbivores. The ways in which herbivores exploit plants affect not only plants, and the assemblages in which they exist but also the “dynamics” of whole ecosystems. The paleoecological work demonstrates that the consequences of large herbivore community and population dynamics at some point in history ripples through time and can be seen in the dynamics of ecosystems today. The Quaternary extinctions of many species of large mammalian herbivores changed systems as fire became the major consumer of vegetation in the absence of ungulates. Fundamental to the understanding of the role of herbivores in ecosystem dynamics is the concept of “niche”, however, “browsing” and “grazing” species of large mammalian herbivore are extremely flexible in their diet composition depending on the circumstances in which they find themselves. Whilst body size has also been used as an explanatory variable in understanding large mammalian herbivore ecology (including feeding and vital rates in population studies), there are many “exceptions to the rule”, which, as with the browser vs. grazer dichotomy, deserves further investigation and potentially also changes in ecological theory. There are rich seams of information and data from historical studies and literature that should be made freely available for such analyses, much more often than is presently the norm. Whilst ungulate ecologists should look to the literature on livestock for insights into, particularly digestive physiology and the increasing understanding of the important of the fermentation microbiome, studies on the various species of wild large mammalian herbivore (including those that are not foregut or hindgut fermenters) are needed to provide insights into dietary adaptations. So, what of the future? Climate change looms large in the picture for large mammalian herbivores; they may have flexibility in order to cope with variation but movement, to take advantage of nutritional opportunities, is key, and populations in, for example, semi-arid areas are increasingly unable to exploit spatial variation because of the massive impact of humans on land use. Let us not forget that currently about 37% of the total land area of the globe is agricultural land and 60% of this is grazing land for livestock. These proportions will only increase as the world’s human population grows in size and wealth. The foregoing Chapters in the Ecology of Browsing and Grazing II provide a wealth of information on the past and current ecology of large mammalian herbivores, but the book is also a call for future generations of researchers to seek to better understand the whats, whys and the wherefores of the interactions between herbivores and the ecosystems in which they live. Given the vital importance of mammalian herbivores to those ecosystems, and also the role they play in providing ecosystem services to humanity, researchers must seek partnership with policy and management practitioners in delivering evidence-based solutions for the future management and conservation of these amazing creatures, in a world that is changing before our eyes. But researchers should not forget that these ungulates are made of flesh and blood, that they graze and browse in real landscapes, and that there is a profound need for hard-core ungulate ecologists with a broad set of skills and deep understanding of ‘their’ animals. As a bonus, we, and all other ungulate ecologists, get to see, feel and understand some of the most beautiful creatures that share our planet.
Article
The Extinction of Late Pleistocene Large Mammals from North Eurasian Perspective – Review of Ross D.E. MacPhee (with illustrations by Peter Schouten). End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals. 2019. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN: 978-0-39324-929-3; xii + 236 pages, with 83 illustrations and 1 table. List price $35 US (hardback). Photo courtesy of W. W. Norton & Co. - Yaroslav V Kuzmin
Book
Birds and mammals can give us clues about our own behavior, and studying them can answer interesting questions, such as why is the World green, and why are plants the biggest organisms on land, but animals the largest in the oceans? Nevertheless the most compelling reason to study them is because it is fun, which is possibly the main message in this book. Printed copies can be obtained from the publisher (cheaper from October 2021 to 2024). Digital copies can be obtained from the publisher´s site or by contacting me.
Article
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Through a novel survey instrument, we examined traits and characteristics that various scholars and observers have averred promote or hinder proenvironmental behaviors. We found that those who hold anthropocentric and monotheistic religious views, and express low levels of environmental, religious, and cosmic humility, are less likely to engage in proenvironmental behaviors than those who maintain views, or express affinity with affective traits, values, and spiritual understandings, that are ecocentric, Organicist/Gaian, pantheistic, animistic, and that in general reflect humility about the human place in the world.
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