Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Impact of the loss of large mammalian herbivores on the global methane cycle

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Late Pleistocene landscape depiction

Artist Karen Carr's depiction of the late Pleistocene landscape with some of the megaherbivores that became extinct.

Impact of the loss of large mammalian herbivores on the global methane cycle

Researchers have found that the massive loss of large herbivores during two historical events and the terminal Pleistocene extinction of megafauna have led to detectable changes in the atmospheric concentration of methane, a greenhouse gas. Examining the consequences of these earlier events yields insights into contemporary ecosystem function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the work in the journal’s special feature on Megafauna in the Earth System.

Summary of full paper (pdf)


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