"The ecological structure of the "mammoth fauna' in Eurasia "

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1991
Authors:Vereshchagin, NK, Baryshnikov, GF
Journal:Annales Zoologici Fennici
Date Published:1991
Keywords:Acinonyx jubatus, Canis lupus, Cuon alpinus, Equus hemionus, Panthera leo

The so-called "mammoth fauna' lived during the Late Pleistocene in N Eurasia and in Alaska. About 30 indicator species inhabited a single hyperzone of "tundra-steppe' that existed where today there is recent steppe, taiga, and tundra. The ecological structure of the mammoth fauna was similar to that of recent communities of animals in African savannas. These ecological parallels of taxa inhabiting very different climatic zones may be analogized as a pyramid, one lateral half of which consists of beasts of the tundra-steppe, and the other half beasts of the savanna. The levels of the pyramid indicate biomass and feeding ecology. The lowest level of the pyramid is made up of grazers: Eurasian horses and kulan on the Pleistocene side, corresponding to zebra and African donkey on the Recent side; along with saiga and zeren, which correspond to African gazelles; bison, yak, and muskox, corresponding to African buffalo and eland. The next level consists of mixed feeders, consumers of grass, leaves, and woody sprouts, and includes Mammoth on the Pleistocene side, corresponding to Africa elephant; woolly rhinoceros, corresponding to white rhinoceros; roe deer and elk, corresponding to gerenuk, and kudu. The third level contains carnivores: wolf and dhole on the Pleistocene side, corresponding to hunting dog and cheetah; and cave lion, corresponding to African lion. In the fourth level are scavengers: cave hyaena, polar fox and glutton, corresponding to spotted hyaena and jackal. Reindeer, lemming, and polar bear survived the disappearing Pleistocene tundra-steppe, and had no analogues in Africa. -Authors"

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