Following giant footsteps: conference on megafauna and ecosystem function
By Emily Read, University of Oxford, UK
There has been growing awareness in the world of ecosystem science that large animals (megafauna) play a significant role in how ecosystems function. With their huge range and capacity to eat and process a vast amount of vegetation, creatures such as elephants spread nutrients further than smaller creatures as they wander the land, playing a crucial long-term role in biogeochemical cycling. The conference titled Megafauna and Ecosystem Function: from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene will take place this month at Oxford University. Sergey Zimov, Frans Vera, James Estes and Yadvinder Malhi are amongst those in a mammoth line-up of scientists discussing the relevance of giant creatures to ecosystems. Megafaunal rewilding is also germane – will we see large creatures again in the areas they once inhabited?
The conference will be held at the University of Oxford, St John’s College on 18 – 20 March 2014.