The megabiota are disproportionately important for biosphere functioning
AuthorEnquist, Brian J.
Abraham, Andrew J.
Harfoot, Michael B. J.
Doughty, Christopher E.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherNATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
CitationEnquist, B. J., Abraham, A. J., Harfoot, M. B., Malhi, Y., & Doughty, C. E. (2020). The megabiota are disproportionately important for biosphere functioning. Nature communications, 11(1), 1-11.
Rights© The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
AbstractA prominent signal of the Anthropocene is the extinction and population reduction of the megabiota-the largest animals and plants on the planet. However, we lack a predictive framework for the sensitivity of megabiota during times of rapid global change and how they impact the functioning of ecosystems and the biosphere. Here, we extend metabolic scaling theory and use global simulation models to demonstrate that (i) megabiota are more prone to extinction due to human land use, hunting, and climate change; (ii) loss of megabiota has a negative impact on ecosystem metabolism and functioning; and (iii) their reduction has and will continue to significantly decrease biosphere functioning. Global simulations show that continued loss of large animals alone could lead to a 44%, 18% and 92% reduction in terrestrial heterotrophic biomass, metabolism, and fertility respectively. Our findings suggest that policies that emphasize the promotion of large trees and animals will have disproportionate impact on biodiversity, ecosystem processes, and climate mitigation. Human-driven losses of megafauna and megaflora may have disproportionate ecological consequences. Here, the authors combine metabolic scaling theory and global simulation models to show that past and continued reduction of megabiota have and will continue to decrease ecosystem and biosphere functioning.
NoteOpen access journal
VersionFinal published version
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.