Worsening climate change puts plants at risk due to decline in seed-spreading species


Plants may adapt to the global warming effect of climate change. This risk arises from the declining population of birds and other animals capable of transferring plant seeds to other locations.

The decline in the population of these animals has been attributed to human activities amid modernization.

Human activities contribute to animal population decline

(Photo: Manjunath Kiran via Getty Images)

The ability of plants to migrate and engage in seed germination to distant regions; as a means of adapting to rising global temperatures in a changing climate are at risk.

This is due to the decline in the population of seed-dispersing birds and mammals caused by human activities. Deforestation, poaching and urbanization are the main human activities that cause the decline of the population of these animals capable of carrying plant seeds, indicates a study published in the journal Science on January 13.

American and Dutch researchers conducted the study and estimated that the loss of birds and mammals reduced the chances of plants adapting to and surviving rising global temperatures by 60%.

The study highlights the surprising fact that plants have lost the ability to track climate change, said Alexa Fredston, a quantitative ecologist at Rutgers University. Fredston pointed out that climate change has profoundly affected biodiversity loss.

Climate change involves the increase in global temperatures caused by the greenhouse effect, in which heat from solar energy entering the Earth is retained due to the effects of greenhouse gases, according to a report published by the United Nations on January 8.

Natural processes allow the Earth’s surface to absorb less than 50% of solar energy, while the atmosphere absorbs 23% and the rest of the solar energy is returned to space; but human activities are disrupting this process, the United Nations said.

Read also: 164 Million Year Old Fossil Changes Everything We Know About Plant Evolution

Study methodology

Researchers used machine learning and data from thousands of field studies to create a geographic map, also known as seed dispersal networks, of how birds and mammals spread seeds to worldwide.

In order to carry out the study, the researchers compared this network affected by human-related factors, including human-induced extinction events and activities, with a network unaffected by human-related factors. the man.

The study also highlighted seed dispersal networks that have declined at an alarming rate. The decline is evident and more severe in parts of North America, South America, Europe and Australia.

The study claimed that if the endangered species were to disappear, the tropical regions of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia would be the most affected regions.

“We found regions where climate-tracking seed dispersal decreased by 95%, even though they had lost only a few percent of their mammal and bird species,” said Evan Fricke, the one of the authors of the study.

Suggested solutions

For several decades, scientists have been monitoring the processes of seed transport from plants. Specifically, they track the species of birds and other animals that eat fruits and the seeds they contain.

Scientists also take into account the distance traveled by animal carriers from the plant to a new location where the seed would germinate. In light of the recent study, researchers have offered potential solutions to address the problem.

One of these is to enhance biodiversity by relocating large animals to their original habitats or by interconnecting habitats with restored wildlife areas.

Related article: Soil nutrients can prevent plants from slowing climate change

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