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Long-term archives reveal shifting extinction selectivity in China's postglacial mammal fauna

Turvey, ST, Crees, JJ, Li, Z, Bielby, J and Yuan, J (2017) Long-term archives reveal shifting extinction selectivity in China's postglacial mammal fauna. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 (1867). ISSN 0962-8452

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Ecosystems have been modified by human activities for millennia, and insights about ecology and extinction risk based only on recent data are likely to be both incomplete and biased. We synthesize multiple long-term archives (over 250 archaeological and palaeontological sites dating from the early Holocene to the Ming Dynasty and over 4400 historical records) to reconstruct the spatio-temporal dynamics of Holocene–modern range change across China, a megadiverse country experiencing extensive current-day biodiversity loss, for 34 mammal species over three successive postglacial time intervals. Our combined zooarchaeological, palaeontological, historical and current-day datasets reveal that both phylogenetic and spatial patterns of extinction selectivity have varied through time in China, probably in response both to cumulative anthropogenic impacts (an ‘extinction filter’ associated with vulnerable species and accessible landscapes being affected earlier by human activities) and also to quantitative and qualitative changes in regional pressures. China has experienced few postglacial global species-level mammal extinctions, and most species retain over 50% of their maximum estimated Holocene range despite millennia of increasing regional human pressures, suggesting that the potential still exists for successful species conservation and ecosystem restoration. Data from long-term archives also demonstrate that herbivores have experienced more historical extinctions in China, and carnivores have until recently displayed greater resilience. Accurate assessment of patterns of biodiversity loss and the likely predictive power of current-day correlates of faunal vulnerability and resilience is dependent upon novel perspectives provided by long-term archives.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: The Royal Society
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 09:44
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 01:53
DOI or ID number: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1979
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10458
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