Giving Compass’ Take:
• Mikayla Mace highlights research showing that there are fundamental scientific principles that explain why large animals and trees matter for the health and integrity of all life on Earth.
• How can donors support conservation efforts? What are the specific challenges environmental experts need to address?
• Read the Giving Compass Environmental Issue Guide for donors to learn more about climate change and biodiversity.
Habitat loss, hunting, logging, and climate change have put many of the world’s most charismatic species at risk. A new study, led by the University of Arizona, has found that not only are larger plants and animals at higher risk of extinction, but their loss would fundamentally degrade life on Earth.
“FOR HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS, EARTH HAS BEEN A PLANET OF GIANTS.”
The study in Nature Communications is based on computer simulations that compared the state of the natural world during the Pleistocene (a past epoch long before human-caused extinctions began), the present day, and a future world in which all large plants and animals had gone extinct.
Results show that the continued loss of large animals alone would lead to a 44% reduction in the total amount of wild animal biomass on the planet. It would also lead to a 92% reduction in soil fertility, which underpins the ability of the earth to grow plants and sustain life.
A key reason for these results lies with the transport of nutrients. When large animals eat in one location and defecate or urinate in another, they transport nutrients, often moving them from nutrient-rich areas to other, less fertile parts of the land and oceans. Similarly, the largest trees are the most productive, and contain and stir more nutrients and carbon.
Read the full article about protecting earth’s ‘giants’ by Mikayla Mace at Futurity.
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