The bacteria in this deforested area of the Amazon will be more homogenous after it becomes pasture.MSU scientist finds deforestation decreases biodiversity in bacteria, too
Credit: Joanna B. Pinneo—Aurora/Getty Images
For decades, scientists have known that deforestation is one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, which has the highest number of plant and animal species of any region its size on the planet. Now, scientists have found out that deforestation is a threat to the diversity of bacteria in the soil, too.Lots more, including quotes aplenty from the researchers and their paper, at the link in the headline. There is also a video there from Grab Networks, which has little to do with the story proper, but does a good job of highlighting the biodiversity of the Amazon.
In a study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Thursday, December 27th, an international team of scientists including Michigan State University professor James Tiedje, as well as researchers from the University of Massachusetts, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Arlington, and University of Sao Paolo, found that converting forest into cattle pasture reduced the number of species of bacteria present at first. Although the number of species then increased, so that there were more in any soil sample than before the land was cleared, they also became more uniform over a wide area by eliminating endemic species and replacing them with bacteria found in pastures all over the Amazon. This decreases bacterial diversity all thoughout the former rainforest as people clear the land for agriculture.
In a press release from the University of Texas at Arlington, lead researcher Jorge Rordigues said, “We have known for a long time that conversion of rainforest land in the Amazon for agriculture results in a loss of biodiversity in plants and animals. Now we know that microbial communities, which are so important to the ecosystem, also suffer significant losses.”
This finding caused the scientists to worry that the loss of genetic variation in bacteria across a converted forest could reduce the ability of the ecosystem there to continue functioning.
This will probably be the last "newsworthy" article of the year for me at Examiner.com. It's time to write year-end roundups, which will count as "evergreen" material. I don't have enough of those right now.