Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Evidence of species loss in Amazon caused by deforestation

Date: August 24, 2015

Source: Lancaster University

Summary: Researchers studying plants, ants, birds, dung beetles and orchid bees in the Brazilian Amazon have found clear evidence that deforestation causes drastic loss of tropical forest biodiversity.

Publishing this week in Ecology Letters, researchers highlighted how remaining areas of undisturbed and recovering forest provided the last refuge for many species unable to withstand the impact of human activity.

As one of the most comprehensive surveys of the impacts of disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity ever conducted, the international team, including Lancaster University, conducted a detailed analysis of nearly 2,000 species of plants, birds, beetles, ants and bees that were found across more than 300 diverse sites in the Brazilian Amazon.

They found, where forests had been cleared for cattle ranching and agriculture, plant and animal life was impoverished and remaining species invariably consisted of the same subset of the original flora and fauna.

Researchers say this is "irrefutable" evidence that biodiversity is declining across the tropics.

But some hope still remains. The researchers also found species loss could be offset by maintaining areas of forest that contain distinctly different populations of plants and animals that, while different, complement and help sustain each other.

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