From: Stanford University
Published October 10, 2017 12:15 PM

Stanford Research Finds That Diversity of Large Animals Plays an Important Role in Carbon Cycle

Trees in tropical forests are well known for removing carbon dioxide from the air and storing the potent greenhouse gas as carbon in their leafy branches and extensive roots. But a new analysis led by Stanford University researchers finds that large forest animals are also an important part of the carbon cycle.

The findings are based on more than a million records of animal sightings and activity collected by 340 indigenous technicians in the Amazon during more than three years of environmental surveys, coordinated by ecologist Jose Fragoso and supported by biologist Rodolfo Dirzo, who were working together at Stanford at the time. The team found that places where animals are most diverse correlate with places that have the most carbon sequestered in the soil.

“It’s not enough to worry about the trees in the world holding carbon. That’s really important but it’s not the whole story,” said Fragoso. “We also have to worry about maintaining the diversity and abundance of animals, especially mammals at this point, in order to ensure a well-functioning carbon cycle and the retention of carbon in soils.”

Read more at Stanford University

Image: This is a white-lipped peccary, which is likely a key mammal in the carbon dynamics of tropical forest soils. It may influence the carbon cycle in several ways, such as by burying items as it roots through soils and being preyed upon by jaguars. (Credit: Jose Fragoso)

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