From The Conversation (2/2/24)…
Horses, camels and deer get a bad rap for razing plants – but our new research shows they’re no worse than native animal
Large introduced herbivores such as feral horses and camels are often seen as “invasive” species which damage native plants.
My colleagues and I published new research in Science testing this assumption and found it isn’t true. Instead, both native and introduced species of plant-eating megafauna (weighing over 45 kilos) have similar impacts on plants.
The effects of introduced megafauna on plants can drive negative public sentiment towards the species. It’s time to change how we think of these animals.
Megafauna over millennia
For the last 35-55 million years, megafauna have shaped Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems. Present-day plant and animal species in Australia evolved on a continent dominated by earth-trampling beasts. They include hoofed horse-like kangaroos, tree-thrashing marsupial tapirs and migratory two-tonne diprotodons resembling wombats.