Evol Ecol Res 10: 925-930 (2008)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Megaherbivores as pacemakers of carnivore diversity and biomass: distributing or sinking trophic energy?

Jürgen Hummel1 and Marcus Clauss2

1Institute of Animal Science, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany and 2Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Correspondence: J. Hummel, Institute of Animal Science, University of Bonn, Endenicher Allee 15, 53115 Bonn, Germany.
e-mail: jhum@itw.uni-bonn.de


Question: What is the trophic role of megaherbivores?

Hypothesis: Depending on their life histories, megaherbivores can either act as sinks or distributors of trophic energy.

Methods: Comparative review of mammal and dinosaur faunas, and aspects of their reproductive biology.

Conclusion: Extant (mammalian) megaherbivore populations represent trophic sinks that potentially limit carnivore diversity and productivity, because they are immune to predation and follow a reproductive strategy of very few, well-protected offspring. In contrast, in dinosaur faunas, the particularities of reproductive biology such as a larger number of offspring and limited parental care made a major part of megaherbivore biomass available to carnivores. Consequently, this increase in available trophic energy allowed for larger body masses and higher species diversity of dinosaur carnivores.

Keywords: dinosaurs, mammals, parental care, reproductive biology.

IF you are connected using the IP of a subscribing institution (library, laboratory, etc.)
or through its VPN.


        © 2008 J. Hummel. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

       Subscribing institutions/libraries may grant individuals the privilege of making a single copy of an EER article for non-commercial educational or non-commercial research purposes. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also use articles for non-commercial educational purposes by making any number of copies for course packs or course reserve collections. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also loan single copies of articles to non-commercial libraries for educational purposes.

       All copies of abstracts and articles must preserve their copyright notice without modification.