The extinction of large animals from tropical forests could make climate change worse -- according to researchers at the University of East Anglia.
New research published today in Science Advances reveals that a decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species.
This is because large animals disperse large seeded plant species often associated with large trees and high wood density -- which are more effective at capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than smaller trees.
Seed dispersal by large-bodied vertebrates is via the ingestion of viable seeds that pass through the digestive tract intact.
Removing large animals from the ecosystem upsets the natural balance and leads to a loss of heavy-wooded large trees, which means that less CO2 can be locked away.