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'Trophic cascades' of disruption may include loss of woolly mammoth, saber-toothed cat
Date:6/30/2010

es, cougars and other predators around the world. The hunting of whales in the last century may have led to predatory killer whales turning their attention to other prey such as seals and sea otters - and the declines in sea otter populations has led to an explosion of sea urchins and collapse of kelp forest ecosystems.

"In the terrestrial realm, it is important that we have a better understanding of how Pleistocene ecosystems were structured as we proceed in maintaining and restoring today's ecosystems," the researchers wrote in their conclusion. "In the aquatic realm, the Earth's oceans are the last frontier for megafaunal species declines and extinctions."

"The tragic cascade of species declines due to human harvesting of marine megafauna happening now may be a repeat of the cascade that occurred with the onset of human harvesting of terrestrial megafauna more than 10,000 years ago. This is a sobering thought, but it is not too late to alter our course this time around in the interest of sustaining Earth's ecosystems."


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Contact: William Ripple
bill.ripple@oregonstate.edu
541-737-3056
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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