A key piece of evidence in the humans versus climate debate is the size of the extinct mammals. It has always been assumed that humans mainly impacted on populations of large mammals, while if climate change played the key role there should be evidence of large impacts on small mammals as well as the larger animals.
The team's results show that continents which suffered larger climate change impacts suffered larger extinctions of small mammals and viceversa, further strengthening the idea that climate change was a key factor in controlling past extinctions on a global scale.
This research has important implications for the current study of climate change, not only in revealing the role of the climate in causing extinction in mammals, but also by demonstrating how the effect will be different across regions and continents.
"Our results show that continents with the highest 'climate footprints' witnessed more extinctions then continents with lower 'climate footprints'. These results are consistent across species with different body masses, reinforcing the view that past climate changes contributed to global extinctions."
"While climate change is not the only factor behind extinction, past, present or future, we cannot neglect in any way that climate change, directly or indirectly, is a crucial actor to understand past and future species extinctions.", said Miguel Arajo, a co-author of the paper from the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Spain.
|Contact: Ben Norman|