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As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:26 am
by Joe

Click on image to see its original size
31 Mar 2011: Report
by sharon levy

As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence
With giant tortoises, elephants, and other fruit-eating animals disappearing from many of the world’s tropical woodlands, forests are suffering from the loss of a key function performed by these creatures: the dispersal of tree seeds. But a new experiment shows that introduced species may be able to fulfill this vital ecological role.

The island of Mauritius was settled by Dutch sailors in the 1600s. Within a few decades, all the large, native fruit-eating animals, or frugivores, had been driven to extinction. The lost included not only the famous flightless dodo, but also a giant lizard and two species of tortoise. The demise of these creatures reverberated through the island’s ecosystem, affecting fruiting plants that had co-evolved with the local frugivores and relied on them to spread their seeds onto fertile ground.
http://e360.yale.edu/feature/as_larger_ ... ence/2381/

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Re: As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:40 pm
by Rand
I've read similar speculation about such species as Osage Orange, pawpaw, kentucky coffee tree and honey locust missing the lost ice age megafauna in north america.

Re: As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:59 am
by Marcboston
Interesting read. You can see a similar event playing out here in the states. With really no predators (wolves and cougars) , deer populations are way too high and eating everything in site and maybe changing the forest make-up.

Re: As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:00 am
by Joe
Rand wrote:I've read similar speculation about such species as Osage Orange, pawpaw, kentucky coffee tree and honey locust missing the lost ice age megafauna in north america.
a degraded planet due to loss of biodiversity will mean a diminshed future "humanity"

future generations will hate us

Joe

Re: As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:06 pm
by dbhguru
Joe,

I wonder if future generations will have a clue. Our species has a talent for shutting itself off from the rest of nature so effectively that when species start dropping out few notice. Even with the overwhelming amount of scientific information we have today at our finger tips, the degree to which most people are out of touch with nature is depressing. We could all give dozens of examples.

Bob

Re: As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:48 pm
by mdvaden
dbhguru wrote:Joe,

I wonder if future generations will have a clue. Our species has a talent for shutting itself off from the rest of nature so effectively that when species start dropping out few notice. Even with the overwhelming amount of scientific information we have today at our finger tips, the degree to which most people are out of touch with nature is depressing. We could all give dozens of examples.

Bob
That new generation thought had me thinking a while back of a Pet Plant that could be sold to kids or adults.

There would be sensors in the soil for water and reminders for feeding.

It would be hooked up to the computer, and if the plant soil was too dry, a seriously ill animated plant cartoon would start to play in a small window on the screen.

Could even use wireless sensors to have a community of plants.

Re: As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:41 pm
by Marcboston
a degraded planet due to loss of biodiversity will mean a diminshed future "humanity" future generations will hate us

Joe[/quote]


That is certainly a valid thought, but chances are is that people born in the future will only really know the world they live in. The hemlock will be likely mirror the mammoth in many peoples minds..... another extinct species that you only wish were still around. Chances are the people of the future wont miss the past but only know the world to which they were born to. I kinda stole this train of thought from a radio program called "On Point". The show was about "Climate Change in the Deep Future".

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/03/24/clim ... nge-future#

I highly recommend this program to all ENT members.... pretty interesting listen. (Ed, this is right up your sleeve, I finally got a thing from the web before you! HA!)