By reviewing past extinction patterns, a new study suggest that herbivores may be at the highest risk of extinction. A team of researchers from the US and UK studied more than 44,000 living and extinct species, specifically looking at their diets. Trisha Atwood, lead author of the study published in Science Advances, said “[we built] a dataset so we could determine which trophic level is at highest risk for extinction.” Many researchers had previously assumed predators had the highest extinction rates because of their extensive home ranges and slow population growth rates, but that wasn’t the case. The team found that herbivores consistently have had the highest risks of extinction, including from the present day to the late Pleistocene. This observed elevated extinction risk for herbivores is ecologically consequential, given the important roles that herbivores are known to play in controlling ecosystem function.
Wild Nature Institute works to protect herbivores like hoofed mammals and elephants in northern Tanzania through the TUNGO program.
Science News and Updates From the Field from Wild Nature Institute.
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