The reintroduction of some mammals can restore entire ecosystems and affect the climate.

Researchers from Resolve and UNEP have identified 20 species of mammals whose reintroduction in certain parts of the world would restore entire ecosystems and provide climate co-benefits.

The reintroduction of one or several key species of large mammals from the respective ecosystems is sufficient to restore entire natural areas and ecosystems. Based on this observation, an international team of researchers affiliated with the Resolve Association and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMW) has pinpointed which species are reintroduced in which regions of the world to achieve this. Their findings were published in a study published this month in the journal Ecography.

Ranking of the world’s corgios, including complete groups of large historical mammals.
© Resolve / WCMV-UNEP

Many natural ecosystems depend on groups large historical mammalsassociated with the Corgion plant. The integrity of these groups goes hand in hand with the structure and composition of these ecosystems. To illustrate this phenomenon, researchers refer to the environmental co-benefits seen with the reintroduction of the gray wolf (canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park, 1995: The reintroduction of one missing species of this Corgion has had, and still has, a huge positive impact on populations of other species such as beavers.. Moreover, once restored, these groups indirectly contribute to increased plant biodiversity and hence greater natural greenhouse gas sequestration.

Twenty species of mammals identified

To determine which key species could replicate the Yellowstone wolf example, the scientists analyzed the IUCN Red List inventory against bibliographic data on the composition of large historical mammal groups prior to 1500 and the most important anthropogenic changes. Thus, they determined in which corgions the reintroduction of one or more of the missing species would complete these groups and bring associated ecosystem benefits.

WCMW and Resolve experts have identified seven carnivorous species and thirteen herbivorous species capable of achieving this. In Europe, for example, the reintroduction or increase in the European bison population is encouraging (bison bonasus), Eurasian beaver (beaver fiber), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), lynx (lynx lynx) or a wolf would restore the ecosystem of a 35 corgion group. Restoring such groups through the reintroduction of other key species could even double animal biodiversity on other continents, especially in Africa and North America.

The researchers calculated that the targeted reintroduction of these twenty species would double the natural surface reclaimed by all ecosystems restored in this way, that is, 11 million additional square kilometers capable of absorbing more carbon. Our data show that the reintroduction of large populations of mammals is possible in a wide variety of natural areas of the planet.evidenced by Joe Gosling, one of the principal authors of the study for WCMW. A priority action would be to consider this reintroduction as a national and international goal.

Article published April 27, 2022


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