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Learning from the past to prepare for the future: felids face continued threat from declining prey

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Many contemporary species of large‐felids (≥ 15 kg) feed upon prey that are endangered, raising concern that prey population declines (defaunation) will further threaten felids. We assess the threat that defaunation presents by investigating a late Quaternary (LQ), ‘present‐natural’ counterfactual scenario. Our present‐natural counterfactual is based on predicted ranges of mammals today in the absence of any impacts of modern humans Homo sapiens through time. Data from our present‐natural counterfactual are used to understand firstly how megafauna extinction has impacted felid communities to date and secondly to quantify the threat to large‐felid communities posed by further declines in prey richness in the future. Our purpose is to identify imminent risks to biodiversity conservation and their cascading consequences and, specifically, to indicate the importance of preserving prey diversity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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