It’s All Connected


Absence of elephants and rhinoceroses reduces biodiversity in tropical forests.

ScienceDaily (May 11, 2012) — The progressive disappearance of seed-dispersing animals like elephants and rhinoceroses puts the structural integrity and biodiversity of the tropical forest of South-East Asia at risk.

Larges herbivores developed along with the forests, which rely on them to spread seeds.  Tropical rainforests have tall trees, and limited room and light at ground level.  These factors contribute to low germination rates for seeds.  Also missing from these forests is wind, which helps disperse seeds in other areas.

“Megaherbivores act as the ‘gardeners’ of humid tropical forests: They are vital to forest regeneration and maintain its structure and biodiversity,”  

 The disappearance of elephants and rhinos will irrevocably change the rainforest; some species will disappear, and the undergrowth will change.  There will be a loss of complexity that depends upon these large animals to maintain itself. 

How will this affect humans?  What plants might contain the cure for cancer that will disappear from the forest because it no longer has light to germinate?  What undergrowth will choke out weaker plants that hold the soil in place, leading to erosion of the thin soils?  Because its all connected, there’s no telling what future results our current actions will have on the natural world.  We just know that there are changes coming – the question is, can we continue to lose biodiversity and survive?





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