Prospects for rewilding with camelids

Meredith Root-Bernstein, Jens-Christian Svenning

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The wild camelids wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus), guanaco (Lama guanicoe), and vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) as well as their domestic relatives llama (Lama glama), alpaca (Vicugna pacos), dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and domestic Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) may be good candidates for rewilding, either as proxy species for extinct camelids or other herbivores, or as reintroductions to their former ranges. Camels were among the first species recommended for Pleistocene rewilding. Camelids have been abundant and widely distributed since the mid-Cenozoic and were among the first species recommended for Pleistocene rewilding. They show a range of adaptations to dry and marginal habitats, and have been found in deserts, grasslands and savannas throughout paleohistory. Camelids have also developed close relationships with pastoralist and farming cultures wherever they occur. We review the evolutionary and paleoecological history of extinct and extant camelids, and then discuss their potential ecological roles within rewilding projects for deserts, grasslands and savannas. The functional ecosystem ecology of camelids has not been well researched, and we highlight functions that camelids are likely to have, but which require further study. We also discuss alternative rewilding-inspired land-use models given the close relationships between humans and some camelid species.

TidsskriftJournal of Arid Environments
Sider (fra-til)54-61
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2016


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