Amazon Rainforest :
The destruction of the rainforests means the destruction of the world. Despite being aware of this fact, the trend of deforestation still continues on a large scale.
The ecologist and environmentalists are working hard to make sure not to make this fact a destructive reality.
Can poop really save the Amazon rainforest…?
The concentration of diverse ecosystems per sq. mile in the Amazon rainforest is far greater than anywhere else on the planet. And the forest is comprised of more than 16,000 different species of trees.
The distribution of the seeds of these trees in an area of a massive 2,100,000 sq. miles is no easy task but the process is looked after by the natural elements like water, air, and gravity, animals and insects too play a very important role in enriching the diversity of the rainforest.
A Brazilian ecologist, Lucas Paolucci’s studies along with his team reveal the importance of the poop of the wild animals to restore the Amazon rainforest. He mainly focused on finding the feces of Tapirus terrestris (trunk-nosed lowland tapirs).
Image credit: Wikimedia
Paolucci said, “Tapirs in Brazil are known as the gardeners of the forests.” It’s because these animals feed on the fruits of more than 300 plant species in the forest and disperse the indigestible seeds across the forest as they tend to roam long distances.
According to Mr. Paolucci, the seed-concentration in Tapirs poop is greater than any others’. They disperse the seeds of trees like Bellucia grossularioides (mess apple tree) which are the most essential carbon-trappers of the ecosystem. It is very important to protect these species (Tapirs) as these big seeds cannot be passed through other smaller animals.
Lucas Paolucci joined a research team in 2016 studying the importance of animals in restoring the damaged Amazon rainforests.
Image credit: Wikimedia
According to the experiment by the team in eastern Mato Grosso, where a pair of forest sites were burnt in a controlled manner from 2004-2010. One of the 2 sites was torched every year while the other was burnt every 3 years. A 3rd site remained undisturbed to calculate the difference.
The team then surveyed and investigated the sites using the camera-trap recordings and found 163 feces piles in different locations. And upon analyzing the dung piles, the researchers were astonished to find 129,204 seeds of 24 different plant species.
In fact, the tapirs spent more time in the burnt sites than in the untouched site. They also dispersed 3x more seeds per hectare in the damaged sites than in the untouched site. But the deadly disaster – forest fire in Amazon struck just months after the findings were published in Biotropica in 2019.
Insects’ role in saving the Amazon rainforest…
The insects are as important as the tapirs to restore the wobbling balance. After the catastrophic disaster, the team resumed their research with the dung beetles. They collected 20kg of tapir’s feces and segregated it into 700gm tuffets.
Each tuffet was inserted with plastic beads as decoy seeds and left the clumps in the forest sites for the dung beetles to do their job. And the team later collected what was left of the clumps after 24 hrs to count the remaining seeds.
The absent-seeds were rolled by the beetle. This data will shed a significant proportion of light on how the insects help to regenerate the Amazon rainforests. The complete finished report by the team is expected to be published in 2021.
Despite all these efforts, illegal deforestation is still continuing, the government must impose strict penalties on those who disturb the delicate balance of the Amazon rainforest.
Approximately 20% of the Amazon is already lost and if the same trend continues another 7% of the rainforests may disappear within 2030.