A recent research studied the effects of extinction of Ice Age mammals on the ecosystem. Ninety-four large mammal species that existed in the last 50,000 years in North America were studied. These included Columbian mammoths, Canadian lynx, moose, coyotes, dogs, cows and many more. The study aimed to examine the relationship between species’ functional diversity and their extinction risk.
It was previously believed that Ice Age most affected species with unique traits. This in turn affected the functional diversity, the role an animal plays within an ecosystem. The research shows that this isn’t true. Species that survived the Ice Age were as distinct as those that didn’t. That is the reason Ice Age extinctions were not too harsh on the environment.
Though when mammoths went extinct, there was no specie that could replace their function. However, the research found that European domestic animals that came later did restore some functional diversity.
The research also presented an alarming statistic. We have reached a point where we cannot afford to lose more mammals. If we lose even a handful of key mammals, it will leave a gap equivalent to that of all Ice Age mammal extinctions put together.