Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores

Ripple, William J., Estes, James A., Beschta, Robert L., Wilmers, Christopher C., Ritchie, Euan G., Hebblewhite, Mark, Berger, Joel, Elmhagen, Bodil, Letnic, Mike, Nelson, Michael P., Schmitz, Oswald J., Smith, Douglas W., Wallach, Arian D., and Wirsing, Aaron J. (2014) Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores. Science, 343 (6167). 1241484. pp. 151-162.

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Abstract

Large carnivores face serious threats and are experiencing massive declines in their populations and geographic ranges around the world. We highlight how these threats have affected the conservation status and ecological functioning of the 31 largest mammalian carnivores on Earth. Consistent with theory, empirical studies increasingly show that large carnivores have substantial effects on the structure and function of diverse ecosystems. Significant cascading trophic interactions, mediated by their prey or sympatric mesopredators, arise when some of these carnivores are extirpated from or repatriated to ecosystems. Unexpected effects of trophic cascades on various taxa and processes include changes to bird, mammal, invertebrate, and herpetofauna abundance or richness; subsidies to scavengers; altered disease dynamics; carbon sequestration; modified stream morphology; and crop damage. Promoting tolerance and coexistence with large carnivores is a crucial societal challenge that will ultimately determine the fate of Earth's largest carnivores and all that depends upon them, including humans.

Item ID: 31786
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9203
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2014 10:07
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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