News FocusEcology

A Bold Plan to Re-Create a Long-Lost Siberian Ecosystem

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Science  02 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5386, pp. 31-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5386.31

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CHERSKII, RUSSIA-- An international team of scientists is planning to test whether--by tearing up mosses and lichens so they can be replaced by grasses--bison, horses, and other large grazers can bring back the mammoth steppe in Siberia. In creating what is being called "Pleistocene Park," these ecologists and wildlife biologists are embarking on an ambitious experiment that aims to test theories about the forces that shaped, maintained, and ultimately vanquished a long-gone ecosystem. Some point out that the project's main goal--restoring the mammoth steppe--could be doomed because some Pleistocene elements are impossible to reproduce: the namesake mammoths, of course, and certain climatic features, such as cooler temperatures and less carbon dioxide in the air. But government officials are hoping Pleistocene Park will attract adventure tourist dollars.