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Defaunation in rainforests could have more severe consequences than reported


Tropical rainforests are emptying out due to the ongoing extinction of animal species caused by overhunting and forest fragmentation. But not only species as such, also the number of individuals of species living in rainforests continue to decline. Large-bodied species, which are particularly vulnerable to changes, decline at a comparably faster rate than other species. A new study by researchers at the Senckenberg Biodversity and Climate Research Centre shows that the resulting animal downsizing in rainforests might have severe consequences for ecosystem services.

“The effect of downsizing of animal communities is three times larger for services that are provided by ecological networks than for their structural stability. This is because the species that go extinct first are those who contribute unique services and keep the rainforest function,” says researcher Dr. Isabel Donoso, an Alexander-von-Humboldt fellow who led the study at Senckenberg. MORE

Header image: The crimson-rumped toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus) is one of the large-bodied birds inhabiting the rainforest. Credit: Maximilian Vollstädt.

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