Researchers at Stanford University have found that today's communities of small mammals are less diverse and different from even a few centuries ago, linked to human activity.
Zoologists surveyed small mammals in three different areas with different levels of human exposure to animal habitats, and selected a sanctuary, a student observatory and a campus of the University, and studied thousands of bones and teeth of small, modern mammals and remains of ancient inhabitants of the same areas.
The study showed that since the beginning of the anthropocene, the diversity of small animals has been significantly reduced, with increasing human impact on the habitat, and that the composition of modern communities is significantly different from those that lived about 500 years ago, and that even small protected areas can maintain local communities of small mammals.
Anthropocene is a conditional geological period on Earth associated with the active influence of man on ecosystems, rapid climate change, pollution, and landscape change, which is imputed from the 1950s until our time.
Small mammals, such as rats and earthlings, are ideal objects for spatial and temporal research. Because of the size of the population, the small individual geographical area and the specific nature of the habitat, these animals react quickly to changes, making them good indicators of the state of the ecosystem. They also have low levels of extinction due to their high fertility, size and rate of growth. They have therefore remained stable for thousands of years.
Although small mammal communities are fairly resistant to extinction, they can be changed by anthropogenic effects and environmental changes; tracking the diversity of small mammals in spatial-temporal gradients can detect the extent of anthropogenic effects on all living beings.