Over-hunting threatens Amazonian forest carbon stocks
Tropical forests worldwide store more than 460 billion tonnes of carbon. The Amazon is the largest and most species-rich tropical forest on Earth.
Researchers studied the large-scale impact of wildlife extinctions induced by over-hunting on carbon storage right across the Amazon.
The research shows that much of the above-ground carbon stock of Amazonian forests could be lost if large-bodied fruit-eating mammals continue to be hunted out, and that over-hunting adds to the Amazon's many threats which include deforestation, timber extraction and wildfires.
The research team included authors from UEA (UK), the National Institute of Amazonian Research and Fiocruz Amazônia (both in Brazil), and Oregon State University.
Lead researcher Prof Carlos Peres, from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, said: "Amazonian forests provide globally important ecosystem services, including carbon storage in the forest biomass.
"Our research shows that if people continue to overhunt large mammals, tropical forests could lose much of their capacity for carbon storage. This is because several large mammal species play a vital role in dispersing large-seeded trees associated with high wood density." ■