A study led by ecologists at the University of Tennessee has found that saving endangered endemic species is more important to maintaining biodiversity than previously thought, according to a release from the school. Many of the species typically develop and live in isolation, leading some to call them “lonely species.”
Researchers took a type of eucalyptus from the wild and transplanted it into a single location to see how the plant would interact with different species around it. The investigation was one of the first to compare functions of endemic and non-endemic species, and relied on experimental forestry.
Some of the beneficial interactions that the eucalyptus plants typically have with plants around them were lost, scientists found. And losing the genes supporting those interactions was bad for the region they’d been taken from as well. Scientists concluded that such a loss of genes rippled through the ecosystem, impacting many of the species relying on them.
Top image: Researchers compared endemic eucalyptus with non-endemic species. (Credit: Joe Bailey)