The global biomass of wild mammals

Lior Greenspoon, Eyal Krieger, Ron Sender, Yuval Rosenberg, Yinon M. Bar-On, Uri Moran, Tomer Antman, Shai Meiri, Uri Roll, Elad Noor, Ron Milo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Wild mammals are icons of conservation efforts, yet there is no rigorous estimate available for their overall global biomass. Biomass as a metric allows us to compare species with very different body sizes, and can serve as an indicator of wild mammal presence, trends, and impacts, on a global scale. Here, we compiled estimates of the total abundance (i.e., the number of individuals) of several hundred mammal species from the available data, and used these to build a model that infers the total biomass of terrestrial mammal species for which the global abundance is unknown. We present a detailed assessment, arriving at a total wet biomass of ≈20 million tonnes (Mt) for all terrestrial wild mammals (95% CI 13-38 Mt), i.e., ≈3 kg per person on earth. The primary contributors to the biomass of wild land mammals are large herbivores such as the white-tailed deer, wild boar, and African elephant. We find that even-hoofed mammals (artiodactyls, such as deer and boars) represent about half of the combined mass of terrestrial wild mammals. In addition, we estimated the total biomass of wild marine mammals at ≈40 Mt (95% CI 20-80 Mt), with baleen whales comprising more than half of this mass. In order to put wild mammal biomass into perspective, we additionally estimate the biomass of the remaining members of the class Mammalia. The total mammal biomass is overwhelmingly dominated by livestock (≈630 Mt) and humans (≈390 Mt). This work is a provisional census of wild mammal biomass on Earth and can serve as a benchmark for human impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2204892120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume120
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • biomass
  • biosphere
  • ecology
  • quantitative biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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