Past and Future Rapid Environmental Changes

Volume 47 of the series NATO ASI Series pp 319-339

Late-Quaternary extinction of large mammals in northern Eurasia:A new look at the Siberian contribution

  • Andrei V. SherAffiliated withSevertsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution

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Although extinction occurred throughout the Quaternary, various calculations of extinction rates agree that the end-Pleistocene extinction was among the largest by the number of species involved and probably one of the most abrupt in time (Kurtén & Anderson 1980; Martin & Klein 1984). Generally, extinction can be considered as the failure of a species to adapt to changing biotic or abiotic conditions. The transition from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene was marked by wide-scale vegetational restructuring, which broadly correlated with the dramatic changes in the spatial distribution of some mammalian species and the extinction of others. Since the last century this correlation has been used as the main argument for environmentally caused (‘climatic’) extinction hypotheses.