After Guy Robinson's Proposed causes of megafaunal extinction in North America
HypothesisCauseRatePatternProcessComments
H0SupernovaBrackenridge, 1981RapidGlobalSterilization of exposed megafauna.
H1Climate changeGraham and Lundelius 1984, Guthrie 1984Slow?A mosaic vegetation pattern becomes zonal; follows climate gradientClimate changes lead to less hospitable environments for certain large species, which fail to adapt.
H2Environmental insularityKing and Saunders 1984Slow?Extinction follows as boreal forest recedes northwardsRapid expansion of deciduous forest suddenly reduces available habitat
H3Rapid climate cooling: the Younger DryasBerger 1991, Alley et al.2003RapidFollows climate gradient at ca 11,000 14C yrbp (Younger Dryas)As above, but change is more drastic and develops rapidly.
H4Blitzkrieg, or rapid overkillMartin 1984RapidWave through regionNaïve fauna rapidly hunted to extinction
H5Protracted overkillWhittington and Dyke 1984, Fisher 1997SlowSlow wave, or mosaic pattern of megafaunal collapseInitially naïve fauna. Overexploitation eventually causes collapse
H6Predator pit Janzen, 1983 RapidWave through regionHumans and native predators each contribute to collapse
H7Second-order predationWhitney-Smith 2001Moderately rapidPulsed Interactions between humans, carnivores, herbivores and vegetation
H8Three stage overkillAlroy 2001 Rapid Pulsed Overkill sufficient to explain pattern
H9Clovis age droughtHaynes 1991Rapid Severe but temporary vegetation change following human arrival, at ca. 11,000 14C yrbpArid conditions spread, rapidly facilitating predation by humans
H10Hypervirulent diseaseMacPhee and Marx 1997Very rapidPanzootic disease patternInfectious disease with trans-generic virulence
H11Keystone megaherbivoresOwen-Smith 1987, Zimov et al. 1995, Schüle 1990Not specifiedLandscape transformation and fire follow megafaunal collapseMegaherbivores, which maintain open forest, are removed by humans or disease Fire regime changes as forests close and fuel loads rise (Schüle 1990)
H12Great fireHumbert 1927, Miller et al. 1999RapidSimultaneous throughout large regionsLandscape transformation by anthropogenic fire. Extirpation follows loss of forage
H13Synergy Burney 1993a, b, 1999, Diamond 1984SlowMosaicHuman and natural causes interact


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