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Science News: Animal extinction putting pressure on plant species

– G.A., Senior Editor

Every year, lists of species that have been declared extinct are published in the popular media. As a result, there is a general awareness of the large number of species that have been lost in recent years. Unfortunately, growing awareness does not seem to be contributing to effective countermeasures as the rate of extinction is actually accelerating.

The plight of large animal species, such as elephants and pandas, tends to attract the attention of the general public. Human activity, including agriculture and poaching, has obvious effects on animal species that can be clearly observed by humans. However, research recently published in Science emphasizes the need to remain aware of the plight of plant species. The loss of birds and animals of any size puts immense pressure on the many plant species that rely on these birds and animals to disperse their seeds.

The authors of this study report that the spread of seeds by birds and animals is particularly important in an era of climate change. Without mobile species to carry seeds to potential new habitats, plant species risk going extinct because they become trapped in environments that they are no longer able to survive in.

Given that plants represent not only sources of food for humans but also compounds that can potentially be used in medications, the loss of plant species poses a major threat to humans. Therefore, we must remain aware that species loss affects not only birds and animals, but also the numerous plants that directly interact with them in their environment.

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