Extinctions linked to new assemblages of species — ScienceDaily

Scientists have found that as the world undergoes profound environmental change, identifying and protecting ‘novel’ communities of species can help prevent extinctions within vulnerable ecosystems.

Professor John Pandolfi and Dr Timothy Staples from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at The University of Queensland (CoralCoE at UQ) are the lead authors of a new study in Science that looked at how combinations of plankton species changed across the world’s marine ecosystems in the past 66 million years. From this, their team developed a world first method to detect ‘novel’ communities of species across all ecosystems.

“A novel ecological community is one with combinations of species that are different to any past observations from that site,” Prof Pandolfi said. “These different species combinations can be due to new species arriving in the community, existing species leaving, or species becoming rarer or more common.”

“We found that when novel

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Past tropical forest changes drove megafauna and hominin extinctions

Past tropical forest changes drove megafauna and hominin extinctions
Artist’s reconstruction of a savannah in Middle Pleistocene Southeast Asia. In the foreground Homo erectus, stegodon, hyenas, and Asian rhinos are depicted. Water buffalo can be seen at the edge of a riparian forest in the background Credit: Peter Schouten

In a paper published today in the journal Nature, scientists from the Department of Archaeology at MPI-SHH in Germany and Griffith University’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution have found that the loss of southeast Asian grasslands was instrumental in the extinction of many of the region’s megafauna, and probably of ancient humans too.


“Southeast Asia is often overlooked in global discussions of megafauna extinctions,” says Associate Professor Julien Louys, who led the study, “But in fact, it once had a much richer mammal community full of giants that are now all extinct.”

By looking at stable isotope records in modern and fossil mammal teeth, the researchers were able

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First People In Bahamas Caused Bird Extinctions, Displacement

KEY POINTS

  • Several bird species in the Bahamian islands were lost or displaced after humans arrived
  • Researchers say the human impact is the “most likely culprit” for the losses
  • The others that survived are said to be more resilient but they still need to be protected

Did the early humans really have a more harmonious relationship with the environment? A new study found that human arrival in the Bahamian islands actually led to the loss and displacement of several bird species.

Humanity today is facing an extinction crisis, which many believe is caused by human actions quite unlike the previous mass extinctions that were caused by natural events. These actions include overfishing, deforestation, pollution and the burning of fossil fuels.

Does this necessarily mean those earlier humans without the tools for massive deforestation and harnessing fossil fuels were more harmonized with the environment? According to a new study, maybe

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