According to experts, the loss of large animals would accelerate climate change by limiting the number of seeds spread from hardwood trees.
- Researchers studied 2,000 species of trees and 800 species of animals
- Large animals are better at spreading the seeds of larger hardwood trees
- The tropical trees, in turn, help against climate change
It’s a complicated process that will likely turn for the worse without a few helping agents. Large animals, including primates and some large birds are among them.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have found that the disappearance of certain animals can cause tree degradation. This included monkeys, birds, and pig-like animals that encourage the spreading of seeds. Since these particular species eat the fruits, the seeds of those trees would further spread through their excrements. Without them, the process would falter.
They studied a number of 2,000 tree types in the Brazilian rainforests, and a number of 800 animals with the benefits for their survival.
According to professor Carlos Peres from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, they have found that the decline in populations of large animals will induce a decline in large hardwood trees. In turn, this will impact the tropical forests that are currently aiding us in the fight against global warming.
The tropical large hardwood trees are incredibly effective at capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is converted into breathable oxygen for humans and keeps the atmosphere clean of harmful greenhouse gasses. They play a crucial role in the battle against climate change. However, they require help as well. By stopping the extinction of large animal species, environmentalists will essentially help the trees, which help the planet.
The extinction of larger fauna would thus be highly detrimental to our planet. Some of them, such as many species of primates, toucans, or tapirs are very effective, but are already on the endangered list. They are facing a decline, and our planet’s health might go hand in hand with it. This is a problem that can unfortunately not be fixed by smaller animals.
According to the researchers, others such as bats or small birds do not hold this vital capacity. They may provide as important agents for the spreading of smaller seeds of other plant species, but not the tropical hardwood trees that aid against climate change. Unfortunately, it’s also the larger animals that are more often the target of hunters. This may be for trophies, illegal trade, or even due to habitat loss.
It’s only the larger species that have the power of helping the rainforest’s survival. If they disappear, our potential of countering climate change might tragically go along with them.
Image source: tumblr.com