We Affect Other Species' Biogeography

Alexander H. Harcourt

in Human Biogeography

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780520272118
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951778 | DOI:
We Affect Other Species' Biogeography

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The spread of humans across the globe can be tracked by the burst of extinctions of large-bodied animals as we arrived in each region previously empty of us and our modern weapons. Debate exists about whether humans or climate change caused the extinctions, and if humans were the culprit, how we did it. Most current evidence indicates hunting as the cause, but in the case of Neanderthals, we might simply have outcompeted them for food. If we did not drive species to extinction, we often drove them to miniscule ranges on the edge of their previous distribution. Nevertheless, we have helped many species, such as our pathogens, parasites, and our domestic plants and animals, to hugely expand their range.

Keywords: Americas; Australia; extinction; Madagascar; lemurs; mammoths; moas; Neanderthal

Chapter.  7673 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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