Christopher Baraloto, director of the International Center for Tropical Botany, conducting research in French Guiana. (Credit: Florida International University)
Rare species are irreplaceable when it comes to the functionality of ecosystems, say scientists at Florida International University. When removed, ecological processes may be altered with cascading consequences for other plants and animals, they have found.
To make the determination, researchers calculated potential impacts from species loss within ecosystems and created simulations of what would happen if species were removed. They then compared the ecosystem disruptions caused by losing rare species versus losing more common species.
Much of the work was focused on the tropics, where large numbers of species are predicted to be lost in the future. Some of those considered included stream fish from the Amazon, birds from Australia and trees from French Guiana.
Full results of the simulations effort are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Top image: Christopher Baraloto, director of the International Center for Tropical Botany, conducting research in French Guiana. (Credit: Florida International University)