Mother Nature’s ingenuity knows no bounds.
And man is constantly uspetting the balance.
Carnivores help trees thrive without thorns, study says
The presence of carnivores helps plants without thorny defences thrive, a study of life on the savannah reveals.
Researchers found that species without thorns thrived in areas favoured by carnivores because plant-eating animals deemed it too risky to graze at these sites.
The team added that declining carnivore numbers was likely to have an impact on the links that connect carnivores, herbivores, plants and people.
“Our observations indicate that carnivores, like leopards and wild dogs, shape where herbivores eat,” explained co-author Adam Ford from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
“Plant defences, such as thorns, shape what herbivores eat.”
“Plants have two pathways to success. You either protect yourself from herbivores by growing large thorns, or thrive in areas that are risky to your predators; plant eaters.”
He added that the delicate ecological equilibrium between the animal and plant kingdoms was likely to be disrupted in some regions.
Dr Ford observed: “As human activities continue to reduce populations of predators, herbivores like impala become willing to feed in areas that used to be risky, consuming more preferred vegetation and – ironically – allowing less-preferred thorny plant species to take over.”
A study published earlier this year suggested that three-quarters of the planet’s large carnivores were experiencing declines in their populations.
It added that the majority now only occupied less than half of their historic range, and this contraction could have a wide-reaching and long-lasting impact on ecosystems.
Source: BBCNews Read and see more.
So, with the vast reduction in the number of carnivores does that mean that defenceless plants will take a hammering and the world lose other carbon dioxide consumming areas other than rainforests?