Abstract: A large proportion of current real-world ventures named as rewilding fall under the concept of trophic rewilding, as do much discussion of rewilding. Trophic rewilding is an ecological restoration strategy that uses species introductions to restore top-down trophic interactions and associated trophic cascades to promote self-regulating biodiverse ecosystems (http://bit.ly/rewildingPNAS).
Trophic rewilding is often focused on large-bodied animals (both herbivores and carnivores) due to their ecological and societal importance and the widespread, strong historical and recent prehistorical losses of megafauna in most regions around the world.
In this presentation, I will first discuss the concept of trophic rewilding, and then outline the scientific background for trophic rewilding, integrating paleoecology and contemporary ecology. Key themes here will the fact that megafauna-rich ecosystems have been the norm on evolutionary timescales, with the widespread modern-day megafauna-poor ecosystems being a novel situation, and the emerging evidence for the strong ecological importance of large-bodied animals.
I will also discuss the current role of trophic rewilding in nature conservation and ecological restoration as well as its potential, now and in the future. Finally, I will outline key research priorities and possibilities in relation to trophic rewilding.