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The aftermath of megafaunal extinction: ecosystem transformation in Pleistocene Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 11:23 authored by Rule, S, Brook, BW, Haberle, SG, Turney, CSM, Kershaw, AP, Christopher JohnsonChristopher Johnson
The loss of interactions from mutualistic networks could foreshadow both plant and animal species extinctions. Yet, the characteristics of interactions that predispose them to disruption are largely unknown. We analyzed 12 pollination webs from isolated hills (“sierras”), in Argentina, ranging from tens to thousands of hectares. We found evidence of nonrandom loss of interactions with decreasing sierra size. Low interaction frequency and high specialization between interacting partners contributed additively to increase the vulnerability of interactions to disruption. Interactions between generalists in the largest sierras were ubiquitous across sierras, but many of them lost their central structural role in the smallest sierras. Thus, particular configurations of interaction networks, along with unique ecological relations and evolutionary pathways, could be lost forever after habitat reduction.

History

Publication title

Science

Volume

335

Issue

6075

Pagination

1483-1486

ISSN

0036-8075

Department/School

School of Natural Sciences

Publisher

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Place of publication

1200 New York Ave, Nw, Washington, USA, Dc, 20005

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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