Megafauna history and biome ecology in South America

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OCTF online seminar followed by Q&A – all welcome. NB – all times given in UK time

Large mammal herbivores are important drivers of plant and ecosystem geography. Yet, most megaherbivore mammals that once inhabited the Earth went extinct, and little is known on whether and how this history helps to understand current patterns of vegetation structure and function in the planet (anachronism). In this talk, Prof Dantas presents evidence that the geography of plant antiherbivory defense traits largely parallel the past distribution of the Neotropical extinct megafauna, and that the overall trait patterns are similar to schemes of vegetation classification traditionally used for African ecosystems. He also provides evidence that biomes have substantially changed since megafauna extinction, a process that cannot be attributed to environmental changes alone. These results highlight the key role of megafauna history to understand broad scale vegetation patterns, especially in regions that are or used to be inhabited by megaherbivores.

Vinícius L Dantas is a Brazilian ecologist and biogeographer interested in disturbance effects on the distribution, dynamics and functional diversity of biomes. He is currently an assistant professor at the Federal University of Uberlandia, Brazil.