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The Range Contraction Project

Laliberte, A.S. and W.J. Ripple. 2004. Range Contractions of North American Carnivores and Ungulates. BioScience 54(2):123-138.

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We compared the historic and current geographical ranges of 43 North American carnivores and ungulates to identify large-scale patterns in range contractions and expansions. Seventeen of the species had experienced range contractions over more than 20% of their historic range. In areas of higher human influence, species were more likely to contract and less likely to persist. Species richness had declined considerably since historic times. The temperate grasslands and temperate broadleaf-mixed forest biomes lost the highest average number of species, while the boreal forest and tundra showed fewer numbers of species lost. Species contractions were a result of Euro-American settlement and post-settlement development in North America. These effects have been widespread and indicate a rapid collapse of species distributions over the course of only 1 to 2 centuries. The results of this study can be used to improve scientist’ knowledge of historical reference conditions and to provide input for wildlife re-introductions and for the creation of wildlife reserves.