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Elephants, bison and moose boost tree diversity, a study shows

A new study has revealed that the presence of large herbivores, such as elephants, bison, and moose, plays a crucial role in promoting forest health and diversity. These herbivores, with their voracious appetites and heavy footsteps, help to create a more varied and dynamic landscape, fostering a richer habitat for a wider range of species.

Tree diversity in herbivore-rich forests

Scientists, utilizing global satellite data, mapped tree cover across the world's protected areas. Their findings indicated that forests with an abundance of large herbivores exhibited a more diverse tree canopy, even though the overall tree cover was sparser. This suggests that the herbivores' grazing and foraging activities create a mosaic of habitats, promoting the growth of various tree species.

Biodiversity and ecosystem resilience

The herbivores' impact extends beyond tree diversity, contributing to overall biodiversity and ecosystem health. Their activities provide opportunities for other species to flourish, creating a more intricate and resilient ecosystem.

Restoring ecosystems and protecting large herbivores

The United Nations has declared the 2020s the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, with a global commitment to restore vast areas of degraded natural landscapes. The study's authors emphasize the importance of integrating large, wild-living herbivores into these restoration efforts. Not only does this safeguard these majestic creatures from extinction, but it also promotes the health and resilience of ecosystems.

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