Eating ecosystems

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Science  14 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 136-137
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0499

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The hunting and trade of tropical wildlife is a multibillion dollar enterprise that provides food and livelihoods to millions but is also the single greatest threat to the persistence of our planet's larger mammals and birds (1). Hunting not only directly affects harvested wildlife but also reshapes entire ecosystems and, in some cases, human societies (13). It can change food web interactions, enable disease transmission to humans, and even fund militias (3). Yet, the impacts of wildlife harvest have been difficult to measure because of the largely unregulated and remote nature of hunting and its co-occurrence with other anthropogenic disturbances. On page 180 of this issue, Benítez-López et al. (4) present a broadscale, synthetic effort to quantify the effects of hunting on birds and mammals throughout the tropics.