The extinction of megafauna worldwide preceded the establishment of many early agricultural civilizations, including those in Sumeria, the Indus Valley, the Nile and China. Was there any link between the megafaunal extinction and the nutrient dynamics of these early civilizations? In this new paper in Ecosphere, led by Chris Doughty, we use the mathematical framework we recently developed (see our papers in Nature Geoscience and PLOS One in 2013) to explore and speculate on how the loss of nutrient transfer through dung may have impacted these early civilizations. Without any direct data, this remains speculation, but may stimulate thinking on the interactions between Pleistocene megafaunal extinction and the rise of agricultural humanity.
Doughty C.E, Wolf A., and Y Malhi Y. 2013. The impact of large animal extinctions on nutrient fluxes in early river valley civilizations. Ecosphere 4:art148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES13-00221.1
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University