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Science News: Alarming loss of biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest

– K.J., Editor

There are few places on our planet more biologically diverse than the Amazon rainforest. How did it become so diverse in the first place? One recent study says that rivers are responsible. A research team in the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History discovered that rivers influence genetic divergence and speciation as they move around the landscape. Though this study focused on birds, its findings can be applied to the fauna and flora of the entire biome.

As more and more species around the globe move towards endangerment and extinction, scientists are concerned with preserving the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, especially since deforestation has accelerated in the last few decades. In 2015, an international team of scientists noted a loss of flora and fauna species in areas where forests were cleared for agriculture and bovine farming. Clearly, swift action must be taken to decrease and hopefully reverse these trends for the Amazon rainforest to survive.

Using birds as evidence of the loss of biodiversity, a longitudinal study by a Louisiana State University research team observed an alarming pattern: some species of birds have begun to disappear, particularly those that eat insects on or near the forest floor. This indicates that there are changes occurring in the Amazon rainforest that are still not fully understood. For our continued survival, preserving the Amazon rainforest should be our priority.

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