Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores

Ripple, William J, Estes, James A, Beschta, Robert L, Wilmers, Christopher C, Ritchie, Euan G, Hebblewhite, Mark, Berger, Joel, Elmhagen, Bodil, Letnic, Mike, Nelson, Michael P, Schmitz, Oswald J, Smith, Douglas W, Wallach, Arian D and Wirsing, Aaron J 2014, Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores, Science, vol. 343, no. 6167, pp. 1-11, doi: 10.1126/science.1241484.

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Title Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores
Author(s) Ripple, William J
Estes, James A
Beschta, Robert L
Wilmers, Christopher C
Ritchie, Euan GORCID iD for Ritchie, Euan G
Hebblewhite, Mark
Berger, Joel
Elmhagen, Bodil
Letnic, Mike
Nelson, Michael P
Schmitz, Oswald J
Smith, Douglas W
Wallach, Arian D
Wirsing, Aaron J
Journal name Science
Volume number 343
Issue number 6167
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Place of publication Washington, D.C.
Publication date 2014-01-10
ISSN 0036-8075
Keyword(s) Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Summary Large carnivores face serious threats and are experiencing massive declines in their populations and geographic ranges around the world. We highlight how these threats have affected the conservation status and ecological functioning of the 31 largest mammalian carnivores on Earth. Consistent with theory, empirical studies increasingly show that large carnivores have substantial effects on the structure and function of diverse ecosystems. Significant cascading trophic interactions, mediated by their prey or sympatric mesopredators, arise when some of these carnivores are extirpated from or repatriated to ecosystems. Unexpected effects of trophic cascades on various taxa and processes include changes to bird, mammal, invertebrate, and herpetofauna abundance or richness; subsidies to scavengers; altered disease dynamics; carbon sequestration; modified stream morphology; and crop damage. Promoting tolerance and coexistence with large carnivores is a crucial societal challenge that will ultimately determine the fate of Earth’s largest carnivores and all that depends upon them, including humans.
Language eng
DOI 10.1126/science.1241484
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science
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