Reorganization of surviving mammal communities after the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction

Anikó B. Tóth*, S. Kathleen Lyons, W. Andrew Barr, Anna K. Behrensmeyer, Jessica L. Blois, René Bobe, Matt Davis, Andrew Du, Jussi T. Eronen, J. Tyler Faith, Danielle Fraser, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Gary R. Graves, Advait M. Jukar, Joshua H. Miller, Silvia Pineda-Munoz, Laura C. Soul, Amelia Villaseñor, John Alroy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Large mammals are at high risk of extinction globally. To understand the consequences of their demise for community assembly, we tracked community structure through the end- Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America.We decomposed the effects of biotic and abiotic factors by analyzing co-occurrence within the mutual ranges of species pairs. Although shifting climate drove an increase in niche overlap, co-occurrence decreased, signaling shifts in biotic interactions. Furthermore, the effect of abiotic factors on cooccurrence remained constant over time while the effect of biotic factors decreased. Biotic factors apparently played a key role in continental-scale community assembly before the extinctions. Specifically, large mammals likely promoted co-occurrence in the Pleistocene, and their loss contributed to the modern assembly pattern in which co-occurrence frequently falls below random expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1308
Number of pages4
Issue number6459
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2019

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