Mammal Diversity With and Without Humans

Historic and prehistoric human-driven extinctions have reshaped global mammal diversity patterns. Without humans, the whole world would be as diverse in large mammals as Africa is today.

The fact that the greatest diversity of large mammals is found in Africa reflects past human activities – and not climatic or other environmental constraints. This is determined in a new study, which presents what the world map of mammals would look like if modern man (Homo sapiens) had never existed.


Top map: The current diversity of large mammals. It can clearly be seen that large numbers of species virtually only occur in Africa, and that there are generally far fewer species throughout the world than there could have been. (Illustration: Søren Faurby).

Bottom map: The natural diversity of large mammals as it would appear without the impact of modern man (Homo sapiens). The figure shows the variation in the number of large mammals (45 kg or larger) that would have occurred per 100 x 100 kilometre grid cell. The numbers on the scale indicate the number of species (Illustration: Søren Faurby).


For more information, please contact

Postdoctoral Fellow Søren Faurby
Department of Bioscience
Aarhus University
(now employed at the Museum of Natural History, Madrid)
+34 665 66 99 26

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning
Department of Bioscience
Aarhus University
+45 2899 2304

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