by Staff Writers
Raleigh NC (SPX) Aug 31, 2017
A North Carolina State University study shows that fire suppression efforts in Brazilian savannas turn many of those areas into forest lands, with negative consequences for the plants and animals that live there.
Expanding forests suck up CO2 from the atmosphere, but the plants and animals from savannas struggle to cope in the leafier environments. Encroaching forest resulted in major losses of plant and ant species in those areas over the last 30 years - with the most susceptible plants and ants losing massive numbers of species.
William Hoffmann, professor of plant and microbial biology at NC State and co-corresponding author of a paper on biodiversity in the Brazilian Cerrado, said that the study shows the importance of fire to the savanna. Savannas - pure grasslands and grasslands dotted with trees - cover about 20 percent of the earth's land; the Brazilian Cerrado is considered the earth's most biodiverse savanna.
The plant and animal species of savannas are highly adapted to frequent fires and high light," Hoffmann said. "Shady conditions are an enemy to these savanna dwellers. Many of these plant species just can't persist in a forest. However, fire suppression has taken root in Brazil, so there is a reluctance to allow fires - even to promote the health of the savanna."
The study, published in Science Advances, examined the past 30 years in the Brazilian Cerrado - a time period that highlights the influence of fire suppression and subsequent forest encroachment. Hoffmann and colleagues from Brazil found that this savanna captured and stored a lot more carbon in the past three decades, but also found that, in areas fully encroached by forest, plant species declined by 27 percent and ant species declined by 35 percent.
Perhaps more importantly, Hoffmann said, losses of plant and ant species unique to the savanna were even more widespread. Savanna plants declined by two-thirds in lands that converted from savanna to forest, while savanna ants declined by a whopping 86 percent.
"These savanna species can't be moved and can't really live anywhere else," Hoffmann said. "This study really highlights the extent to which these species are dependent on their savanna homes."
The findings could have more far-ranging implications, as Hoffmann added that he would expect to find similar results in other tropical areas where savannas become degraded by suppressing fire.
Research Report: The biodiversity cost of carbon sequestration in tropical savanna
Washington (UPI) Aug 29, 2017
New analysis of centuries-old trees in South America has revealed a strong correlation between wildfires and periods of warming. The history of Earth's climate features frequent fluctuations in global temperatures, including many periods of warming. In modern history, periods of warming have occurred more frequently - interrupted by shorter and shorter periods of more and more moderate ... read more
North Carolina State University
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|