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Extinction of large animals could hasten climate change

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London: The extinction of large animals could hasten climate change as their presence in tropical forests help in dispersing tresses with dense wood which are more effective in storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than smaller trees.

The reduction of large animals from tropical forests could make climate change worse as these animals are essential in scattering trees with dense wood.

A decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species, the findings showed.

“We show that the decline and extinction of large animals will over time induces a decline in large hardwood trees. This in turn negatively affects the capacity of tropical forests to store carbon and therefore their potential to counter climate change,” said one of the researchers Carlos Peres from University of East Anglia in England.

Large animals disperse large seeded plant species – often associated with large trees and high wood density — which are more effective at capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than smaller trees, the researchers explained.

The research team studied data from more than 2,000 tree species in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, and more than 800 animal species.

They found that frugivores which are not targeted by hunters — such as small birds, bats and marsupials — are only able to disperse small seeds, which are associated with small trees.

Meanwhile large heavy-wooded trees, which can capture and store greater amounts of carbon, are associated with larger seeds. And these are only dispersed by large animals.

“The big frugivores, such as large primates, the tapir, the toucans, among other large animals, are the only ones able to effectively disperse plants that have large seeds. Usually, the trees that have large seeds are also big trees with dense wood that store more carbon,” Prof Mauro Galetti from Sao Paulo State University in Brazil explained.

The findings appeared in the journal Science Advances. (IANS)(image courtesy: timedotcom.files.wordpress.com)

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Chile’s Southern Patagonia Ice Field Split in Two, Continue to Fracture Amid Climate Change

The chunk of ice that split off from the main glacier was estimated at 208 square kilometers (80.3 square miles), a relatively small part of the ice field

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climate change
Chunks of ice break off the Perito Moreno Glacier in Lake Argentina at Los Glaciares National Park near El Calafate, in Argentina's Patagonia region, March 10, 2016. VOA

Chile’s 12,000 square kilometer (4,633 square mile) Southern Patagonia Ice Field split in two and is likely to continue to fracture amid climate change, according to a team of Chilean scientists who were in the region in March.

Gino Casassa, chief of the Snow and Glacier Division of Chile’s DGA water authority, told Reuters increasing temperatures along the Andes Mountains in southern Chile and Argentina have meant less snow and ice to replenish the region’s abundant glaciers.

“What occurred is a fracture as the ice has retreated, Casassa said.

climate change
Andes Mountains in southern Chile and Argentina have meant less snow and ice to replenish the region’s abundant glaciers. Pixabay

The chunk of ice that split off from the main glacier was estimated at 208 square kilometers (80.3 square miles), a relatively small part of the ice field.

But Casassa said it may be a sign of things to come. The ice field, he said, is now “split in two, and we’ll likely discover further divisions to the south,” he said.

Two icebergs broke off the Grey Glacier in southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park earlier this year, adding to fears that such ruptures are becoming more frequent. (VOA)