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One equation fits overkill: why allometry underpins both prehistoric and modern body size-biased extinctions


Brook, BW and Bowman, DMJS, One equation fits overkill: why allometry underpins both prehistoric and modern body size-biased extinctions, Population Ecology, 47, (2) pp. 137-141. ISSN 1438-3896 (2005) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10144-005-0213-4


The higher extinction proneness of large bodied vertebrates, both in the past and during the modern global biodiversity crisis, has a fundamental explanation in allometry: maximal population increase is scaled to body mass (W) by W -0.25, whilst generation length scales by W 0.25. Populations of any sized vertebrate can persist if their populations experience the same proportional reduction each generation, but if this chronic mortality occurs at an annual rate, then smaller short-lived animals are able to survive whilst larger animals are driven inexorably to extinction. On this basis, our interpretation of the empirical body mass-extinction risk evidence for both the Late Pleistocene extinctions and the contemporary biodiversity crisis is that human impacts are sufficiently rapid and ubiquitous to outstrip the capacity of natural selection in most large taxa, upsetting the highly evolved life history trade-offs that permit the maintenance of a diverse assemblage of different sized animals. © The Society of Population Ecology and Springer-Verlag Tokyo 2005.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Other biological sciences
Research Field:Global change biology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Social impacts of climate change and variability
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:46484
Year Published:2005
Web of Science® Times Cited:39
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2007-09-19
Last Modified:2007-09-19

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