Some good news for the holiday week, post-doc Silvia Pineda Muñoz won a prestigious Smithsonian Secretary's Research Award for her collaborative paper in Science last year on restructuring of mammal communities caused by the end-Pleistocene extinction. They found that the presence of large herbivores of the Pleistocene (rhinos, mammoths, mastodons, horses, bison, etc.) allowed other species to persist in the same communities because of the effects on the landscape and the food chain. When those herbivores were lost, the communities fell apart because the species no longer had the means to interact.
Tóth AB, Lyons SK, Barr WA, Behrensmeyer AK, Blois JL, Bobe R, Davis M, Du A, Eronen JT, Faith JT, Fraser D, Gotelli NJ, Graves GR, Jukar AM, Miller JH, Pineda-Munoz S, Soul LC, Villaseñor A, Alroy J. 2019. "Reorganization of surviving mammal communities after the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction." Science 365 (6459): 1305-1308.
Smithsonian Research Awards are externally reviewed competitions across the entire Smithsonian that start with a nomination for exceptional work. This work was the product of the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems group, where Silvia worked in the past as a post-doc and remains as a research associate. Kay Behrensmeyer, an alum of our field station program, is one of the leaders of ETE.