By: Han Olff , Mark E. Ritchie and Herbert H.T. Prins


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Large plant-eating mammals occupy half of the earth’s land surface and are important both ecologically and economically, but their diversity is threatened by human activities.

Han Olff of Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and colleagues have found that the diversity of large herbivores can be predicted by soil fertility and the amount of rainfall in an area.

Their findings “might explain the global distribution of large herbivore diversity and help to identify crucial areas for conservation and restoration,” they say in this week’s issue of Nature.

Reference: Nature 415, 901 (2002)

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