Loss of Large Predators Has Caused Widespread Disruption of Ecosystems
Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
July 14, 2011
"The decline of large predators and other "apex consumers" at the top of the food chain has disrupted ecosystems all over the planet, according to a review of recent findings conducted by an international team of scientists and published in the July 15 issue of Science.
The study, which included Jeremy Jackson and Stuart Sandin of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, looked at research on a wide range of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and concluded that "the loss of apex consumers is arguably humankind's most pervasive influence on the natural world."
According to first author James Estes, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, large animals were once ubiquitous across the globe, and they shaped the structure and dynamics of ecosystems. Their decline, largely caused by humans through hunting and habitat fragmentation, has had far-reaching and often surprising consequences, including changes in vegetation, wildfire frequency, infectious diseases, invasive species, water quality and nutrient cycles."
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