Un study with key contributions from Brazilian researchers shows that an endangered species, famed as a “forest gardener,” influences African forest composition in terms of tree species and increases the aboveground biomass over the long term
The African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), an endangered species, is often referred to as a “gardener” in recognition of its role as a disperser of fruit seeds from the large diversity of trees it feeds on as it moves through the continent’s tropical forests, contributing to the germination of over 100 species that supply food or shelter to primates, birds, and insects.
However, its importance is even greater than that, according to a new international study. With contributions from Brazilian researchers affiliated with the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and the Agricultural Informatics unit of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the study concluded that in addition to its seed dispersal role, the African forest elephant changes the structure of its forest habitat and helps increase carbon storage.
The elephants browse in, push over or scratch themselves against trees located on the forest trails they use for foraging. The chronic thinning of small trees by elephants alleviates competition for water, light and space in the low canopy strata, allowing the surviving trees to attain large diameters and a high wood density.
Read more at: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa Do Estado de São Paulo