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The aftermath of megafaunal extinction: ecosystem transformation in Pleistocene Australia


Rule, S and Brook, BW and Haberle, SG and Turney, CSM and Kershaw, AP and Johnson, CN, The aftermath of megafaunal extinction: ecosystem transformation in Pleistocene Australia, Science, 335, (6075) pp. 1483-1486. ISSN 0036-8075 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science

DOI: doi:10.1126/science.1214261


The loss of interactions from mutualistic networks could foreshadow both plant and animal species extinctions. Yet, the characteristics of interactions that predispose them to disruption are largely unknown. We analyzed 12 pollination webs from isolated hills ("sierras"), in Argentina, ranging from tens to thousands of hectares. We found evidence of nonrandom loss of interactions with decreasing sierra size. Low interaction frequency and high specialization between interacting partners contributed additively to increase the vulnerability of interactions to disruption. Interactions between generalists in the largest sierras were ubiquitous across sierras, but many of them lost their central structural role in the smallest sierras. Thus, particular configurations of interaction networks, along with unique ecological relations and evolutionary pathways, could be lost forever after habitat reduction.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Palaeoecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:77260
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:215
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2012-03-23
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:14 View Download Statistics

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