Megafauna

From Academic Kids

Megafauna are the large animals of any particular region or time. Generally a "large animal" is defined as one weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg), though the threshold may range from 10 pounds (5 kg) up to 1 ton (1 metric tonne). The term is also used as a shorthand way of referring to particular groups of large animals, most commonly ones that became extinct in geologically recent times.

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Usage

The sense in which the term is used is usually apparent from the context:

  1. A particular group of large, extinct animals. For example, American megafauna, meaning "the various species of large American mammal that became extinct about 13,000 years ago".
  2. Any group of large animals. For example: South American megafauna, meaning "all large animals in South America today".

Charismatic megafauna

The term charismatic megafauna refers to animals that have great popular appeal. Examples include the Giant Panda, the Red Wolf, the Blue Whale and the Koala.

Charismatic megafauna often garner a disproportionate level of public concern. Environmental activists are aware of this effect, and use the extra leverage provided by a charismatic species to achieve more subtle and far-reaching goals. By directing public attention to the plight of the Giant Panda, the environmental movement can raise support not just for the protection of the panda, but for the entire ecosystem it depends on.

On the other hand, the public focus on charismatic species can easily become counter-productive, and often leads to the plight of other, less prominent but more seriously threatened, species being ignored.

For example, in Australia there is a public uproar whenever any move is made to control or exploit the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, which is not even remotely threatened. In fact, because it no longer has predators, it often reaches plague proportions. And yet there is barely a ripple of concern for seriously endangered species like the Gouldian Finch, the Murray Cod, the Feather-leaved Banksia, and the Spotted Tree Frog.

See also: Bambi Effect

African megafauna

Eurasian megafauna

Australian megafauna

See also: Australian megafauna

North American megafauna

Central & South American megafauna

Island megafauna

de:Megafauna

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