A study published in a new issue of the scientific journal Science shows that a decrease in the number of mammal and bird species dispersing seeds is detrimental to plants’ adaptive capacity.
We lose not only the species itself when a bird or mammal species dies, but also its important ecological function, which is to sow the seeds of plants.” Evan Frick, researcher at Rice University, told AFP.
The decline in the number of animal species that disseminates plant seeds is detrimental to the plants’ ability to escape to higher temperatures. This study is the first to provide a global estimate of the magnitude of the phenomenon: The researchers say that seed plants where animals breed are now 60 percent less likely to keep pace with warming due to the extinction of animal species.
Climate change is changing ecosystems around the world, which means that an environment suitable for tree species today will not be friendly to them for decades to come.
In regions with more humid and more favorable temperatures, the plant can survive, but in order to get there, it must make its way even by squeezing the seeds. About half of the plant seeds are spread by animals that eat the fruit or crop. Other plants depend only on the wind.
The Danish-American research team used data from thousands of studies of animal characteristics, as well as machine learning, to create a global map of seed-seeding mammals and birds.
They compared the current situation to what would have been before human-caused extinctions and habitat loss. Details are also made about which animal eats the fruit of which plant and which plant the seeds can be transmitted from the parent plant. Gaps created for some of the less researched species have been filled by machine learning.
It was surprising to find that the decline in nuclear proliferation was particularly sharp in the temperate regions of North America, Europe, South America and Australia, although few species were lost.
Losses have been lower in the tropics of South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, but will increase here, too, with more species of endangered animals, including the elephant.
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