Overhunting Reduces Tropical Forest Carbon Storage
Overhunting large animals in tropical forests will reduce the proportion of large trees and reduce carbon storage, researchers warn.
According to a study published in Science Advances on 18 December and led by researchers from Brazil, large animals are crucial for dispersing hardwood tree seeds in tropical forests. These trees grow larger and remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than smaller softwood trees.
The study analysed data from more than 2,000 tree species and 800 animal species in 31 forest areas in southeast Brazil. The researchers simulated the effects of the extinction of large, fruit-eating animals - such as primates, tapirs, large birds and large rodents - showing that it would cause a decline in hardwood species.