News News

Intact but empty forests? Patterns of hunting induced mammal defaunation in the tropics

Tropical forests are increasingly degraded by industrial logging, urbanization, agriculture, and infrastructure, with only 20% of the remaining area considered intact. However, this figure does not include other, more cryptic but pervasive forms of degradation, such as overhunting. Here, the spatial patterns of mammal defaunation in the tropics are quantified and mapped using a database of 3,281 mammal abundance declines from local hunting studies. Simultaneously population abundance declines and the probability of local extirpation of a population were accounted for as a function of several predictors related to human accessibility to remote areas and species' vulnerability to hunting. An average abundance decline of 13% across all tropical mammal species was estimated, with medium-sized species being reduced by >27% and large mammals by >40%. Mammal populations are predicted to be partially defaunated (i.e., declines of 10%–100%) in ca. 50% of the pantropical forest area (14 million km2), with large declines (>70%) in West Africa. According to these projections, 52% of the intact forests (IFs) and 62% of the  wilderness areas (WAs) are partially devoid of large mammals, and hunting may affect mammal populations in 20% of protected areas (PAs) in the tropics, particularly in West and Central Africa and Southeast Asia. The pervasive effects of overhunting on tropical mammal populations may have profound ramifications for ecosystem functioning and the livelihoods of wild-meat-dependent communities, and underscore that forest coverage alone is not necessarily indicative of ecosystem intactness. The authors call for a systematic consideration of hunting effects in (large-scale) biodiversity assessments for more representative estimates of human-induced biodiversity loss. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Benítez-Lopez et al (2019) Intact but empty forests? Patterns of hunting-induced mammal defaunation in the tropics. PLoS Biol https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000247


https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000247
Average (0 Votes)

Latest News Latest News

Honeybee colonies have increased exponentially in the Mediterranean Basin

Evidence for pollinator declines largely originates from mid-latitude regions in North America and Europe. Geographical heterogeneity in pollinator trends combined with geographical biases in...

Army ant invasion of leatherback nests in Gabon

Egg mortality is one of the main factors affecting life history and conservation of oviparous species. A massive and cryptic colonisation of many leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) eggs is...

Human impact has contributed to the decline of the Eurasion lynx

Disentangling the contribution of long?term evolutionary processes and recent anthropogenic impacts to current genetic patterns of wildlife species is key to assessing genetic risks and designing...

High livestock numbers have a negative influence on Canarian Egyptian vultures’ body condition

Individual traits such as body mass can serve as early warning signals of changes in the fitness prospects of animal populations facing environmental impacts. Here, taking advantage of a 19?year...

Understanding the complex relationships between ecological traits and spatial distribution patterns

The study of the relationship between the ecological niche breadth and spatial distribution of species has been a core topic in ecology. Ecological niche breadth measures the degree of...