Extinction of woolly mammoths may have been due to addition of a predator: humans
A paper co-authored by Professor Blaire Van Valkenburgh is the cover article of journal Bioscience.
Originally published in UCLA Today
By David Stauth and Stuart Wolpert
Life scientists are reporting that the extinction of woolly mammoths and other large mammals more than 10,000 years ago may be explained by the same type of cascade of ecosystem disruption that is being caused today by the global decline of predators such as wolves, cougars and sharks. Then, as now, the cascading events were originally begun by human disruption of ecosystems, a new study concludes, but around 15,000 years ago the problem was not the loss of a key predator, but the addition of one — human hunters with spears.
"The arrival of humans to North America triggered a trophic cascade in which competition for the largest prey was intensified, ultimately causing the large non-human carnivores to decimate the large herbivores. When human hunters arrived on the scene, they provided new competition with these carnivores for the same prey," said Blaire Van Valkenburgh, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
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Published: Thursday, July 01, 2010