According to 130,000 years’ worth of data on what mammals are eating, we’re in the midst of a massive biodiversity crisis, not great!
This revelation was born out of a new study conducted by an international team of researchers and published in the journal science, who used machine learning to delineate the detailed past – and haunting future – of what happens to food webs when land mammals go extinct. Spoiler Alert: It’s Beautiful serious stuff,
“While about 6 percent of land mammals have gone extinct in that time, we estimate that more than 50 percent of mammal food web links have disappeared,” said study ecologist and lead author Evan Frick, said in a press release. “And mammals most likely to decline, both in the past and now, are critical to mammal food web complexity.”
Ecosystems rely on interconnectedness – bees pollinate flowers, predators eat prey, and so on. But these webs can be fragile even though they are highly developed. One link disappears, and a ripple effect is felt throughout the system. how many species are there Lostit becomes a balance increasingly fragileSometimes to the point of collapse.
“When an animal disappears from an ecosystem,” Frick said, “its loss is to the entire web of connections that connects all the species in that ecosystem.”
back in the future
According to the release, the researchers used a machine learning system – trained “using data from modern observations of predator-prey interactions” – to reach their conclusions. It is worth noting that Machine Learning Isn’t Always RightAlthough the study authors claim that their program has shown promising accuracy.
“This approach can tell us who is eating today with 90 percent accuracy,” noted ecologist Lydia Beaudrot, a senior co-author, in the press release. “This is better than previous approaches, and it has enabled us to model predator-prey interactions for extinct species.”
In other words, this machine has offered a glimpse into time – and as is often the case in retrospect, a glimpse into our possible future, should we fail to intervene. the ongoing extinction crisis,
More on mass extinction: Mass extinction has begun, scientists say
“Rather than resilience under extinction pressure, these results show a slow-motion food web collapse caused by selective loss of species with central food web roles.”
However, there is hope.
Fricke says animal restoration in certain prats of the world reverse some effects and prevent others.
What needs to be done to avoid a collapse?
The threat from climate disruption to food production alone means that humanity's entire system for mobilizing energy needs to be rapidly transformed.
One key to avoiding a global collapse, and thus an area requiring great effort and caution is avoiding climate-related mass famines. Our agricultural system evolved in a geological period of relatively constant and benign climate and was well attuned to twentieth-century conditions. That alone is cause for substantial concern as the planet's climates rapidly shift to new, less predictable regimes. It is essential to slow that process. That means dramatically transforming much of the existing energy mobilization infrastructure and changing human behaviour to make the energy system much more efficient.
This is possible; indeed, sensible plans for doing it have been put forward and some progress has been made. The central challenge, of course, is to phase out more than half of the global use of fossil fuels by 2050 in order to forestall the worst impacts of climate disruption, a challenge the latest International Energy Agency edition of World Energy Outlook makes look more severe . This highlights another dilemma. Fossil fuels are now essential to agriculture for fertilizer and pesticide manufacture, operation of farm machinery, irrigation (often wasteful), livestock husbandry, crop drying, food storage, transportation and distribution. Thus, the phase-out will need to include at least partial substitution of non-fossil fuels in these functions, and do so without greatly increasing food prices.
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