Might rising temperatures kill the Congo rainforest? Its a carefully balanced system

Recent studies have shown a potential problem for the Congo basin rainforest – one of the remaining “lungs” of the world.

It would appear that rising temperatures are having an adverse impact on the amount of fruit that is produced by this forest.

Forest elephants carry out many important tasks in the Congo basin. From dispersing seeds to knocking down small trees, the forest may well collapse without them

Why does this matter?

Well it is quite simple. Fruit contains much energy, to give the new tree a good start in life (or indeed to attract an animal to eat it, and then deposit the stone with a healthy dose of fertilizers. This is necessary in a rainforest, because if you get to many trees of the same type in a small area, then the pest that eats this specific tree will multiply and it can kill the whole grove.

This is why so many of the trees in this part of the world are wrapped in sweet soft food. Chimpanzees and Gorillas will eat these, and by the time the stone has made it (undamaged) through their digestive tract they are usually miles away so the new tree can grow far enough from its parent tree to avoid the specific pest that attacks it.

So if the trees stop producing these fruit, then the animals big enough to eat the fruit will stop visiting.

Whether this drought of fruit lasts long enough for the mammal to change its habits or perhaps die, without the big mammal you end up with a tree surrounded by dead fruit. In rainforests there is little wind, so creating light seeds to drift on the breeze is unsuccessful as they still land near the base of the home tree.

Another problem with less fruit, is less elephants that lead the forest to hold less carbon. This is because elephants tend to push over smaller trees, leaving space for big trees to grow in their place. These bigger trees can absorb many times more carbon.

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