Image Credit: Raymond Santi, CC BY 4.0
After Disney nailed The Jungle Book three years ago (by giving it an actual plot) and made almost a billion USD, it was inevitable that The Lion King was next in big-budget almost-entirely-animal-based Disney capers (I’m guessing the Aristocats is next up). And thus, the Circle of
Massive Corporate Cashgrabs Life was completed this summer. Whether you liked it or not, you can’t deny that it was a movie that was made and that at least one child somewhere saw.
So, let’s have a look at it from an ecologist’s perspective.
When species like this toucanet are lost, the interactions that they are a part of are lost too. So how can we restore them? (Image Credit: Jairmoreirafotografia, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped)
Estimating interaction credit for trophic rewilding in tropical forests (2018) Marjakangas, E.-L. et al., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of Biology, 373, https://dx.doi/10.1098/rstb.2017.0435
We have reviewed more than enough papers on biodiversity loss to entitle us to skip the whole “losing species is bad” spiel (see here, here and here). But what we haven’t talked about is that when some species are lost, specific interactions that those species participate in disappear from an ecosystem. Those interactions range from the minute to the crucial. One such crucial example is that of seed dispersal, whereby specific plants rely on specific animals to disperse their seeds, thus maximising biodiversity in other parts of the forest and creating a positive feedback loop.
Naturally, conservationists will want to reintroduce animals to propagate some of these reactions. But as is always the case in conservation, maximising return is absolutely essential when you’re faced with limited resources and a lot of ground to cover. Today’s authors wanted to develop a system for maximising the effect of species reintroduction.