Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018

Immediate conservation activities could secure habitats in South America’s largest tropical dry forest

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows that agricultural expansion and intensification lead to major biodiversity losses in the Gran Chaco in South America. At the same time, the study led by researchers from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) also highlights that there might be a short window of opportunity to prevent the extinction of many species, if ecosystem restoration would start immediately.


Endangered species in the Gran Chaco in South America. Picture taken with the trap camera for the study: Giant Anteater

Credits: Julieta Decarre/ INTA


Endangered species in the Gran Chaco in South America. Picture taken with the trap camera for the study: Chacoan Peccary

Credits: Julieta Decarre/ INTA

Agricultural expansion and intensification threaten biodiversity loss around the world, especially in the tropics. “We focused on the Gran Chaco, South America’s largest tropical dry forest, because this region has become one of the most threatened ecoregions worldwide but how land-use change impacts biodiversity is unknown”, explains Asunción Semper-Pascual, lead author of the study and PhD student at the Geography Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Deforestation rates in the Chaco are among the highest worldwide mainly due to soybean and beef production. At the same time, the Gran Chaco harbors a high biodiversity, including many endemic species like the Chacoan peccary or the Quebracho Crested-Tinamou, so deforestation is a major conservation problem.

‘Extinction debt’ phenomenon: Many species survive in transformed landscapes for decades before they go extinct

Together with a team of researchers from several institutes in Argentina, Asunción Semper-Pascual gathered data on birds and mammals from many sites in the Argentinean Chaco. She used statistical models to explain how bird and mammal communities react to deforestation.

Asunción Semper-Pascual: ”We showed that communities change strongly where land-use change happens, often leading to local extinctions of many species. We also find that many species do not go extinct immediately but with a time delay. This means that the worst impacts of land-use change in the Chaco can be avoided if conservation and restoration activities are implemented swiftly”.

Land-use change results in the loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat for many species but many species hold out in transformed landscapes for decades before they go extinct. This phenomenon is called ‘extinction debt’ and has now for the first time been confirmed for the Chaco region.

Biodiversity losses are clearly linked to meat consumption

“Extinction debt also means that we may underestimate the full impact of deforestation, because many species we find today will go extinct soon if we do not act”, Tobias Kuemmerle, professor for Conservation Biogeography at Humboldt-Universität and Asunción Semper-Pascual’s PhD advisor explains. “Understanding extinction debt is important, because it is a window of opportunity for avoiding that these extinctions will take place.”

However this window may close rapidly. The study results suggest that more than half of all birds and 30 percent of all mammals we find in the Chaco today will have gone extinct in 10 till 25 years if conservation actions are not implemented. These biodiversity losses are clearly linked to consumption in Germany because most Argentinean soybean is exported and used here to feed pigs and chicken to produce cheap meat.

Publication
Semper-Pascual, A., Macchi, L., Sabatini, F.M., Decarre, J., Baumann, M., Blendinger, P.G., Gómez-Valencia, B., Mastrangelo, M.E., Kuemmerle, T. (2018): Mapping extinction debt highlights conservation opportunities for birds and mammals in the South American Chaco. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13074

Link to the Study
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.13074/abstract

Contact
Press and Public Relations Office
Phone: +49 30 2093-2345
pr@hu-berlin.de

Sella Christin Bargel | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.hu-berlin.de/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Decoding the structure of the huntingtin protein

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Camera technology in vehicles: Low-latency image data compression

22.02.2018 | Information Technology

Minimising risks of transplants

22.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>