Loss of animals in tropical forests threatens the trees


A new study from French Guiana documents the effects that hunting may have on tropical forest regeneration.

A team of researchers from the ‘Adaptation and Evolution‘ unit of the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN – CNRS) has published the results of a novel study in French Guiana on the effects that hunting can have on forest regeneration. They found that when large animals that naturally disperse the seeds of some tree species are killed, the entire forest suffers the consequences, with an overall degradation of the rain forest as a result. Their findings are published in the journal Ecological Applications.

While the threats posed by tropical deforestation have attracted international attention for decades, the effects of hunting in tropical forests have only recently begun to be documented. Whether subsistence or commercial in nature, hunting occurs in the great majority of tropical forests worldwide — even within the heart of national parks. Beyond its direct impact on targeted animal populations, hunting also has consequences for the forests’ trees. Most tropical tree species rely on animals that consume their fruits and disperse their seeds, thus helping the trees to reproduce and the forest to regenerate. Declines in animal populations due to hunting can, therefore, impact the regeneration dynamics of tropical forests.

Read more here (in French): https://www.mnhn.fr/fr/communiques-presse-dossiers-presse/defaunation-foret-tropicale-menace-aussi-arbres

Read more in Ecological Applications: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eap.2086