The research also concludes that when no animal dispersers exist in the ecosystem, animal-dispersed tree species are the most vulnerable to deforestation. This means that protecting plant-animal interactions must also be a cornerstone of conservation policy, because the interactions not only create and maintain biodiversity, but also increase resistance to disturbances to the ecosystem.
Both papers underline the importance of forest dynamics in understanding and predicting climate change and biodiversity, highlighting the urgent need for additional study and resources. Purves said, "It is imperative that we create the tools and science to accurately understand the reaction of ecosystems to climate change and other forces not just for plants and animals, but for our children and succeeding generations."
This research is part of the recently established Computational Science Research at Microsoft Research Cambridge. This team of ecologists, biologists, neuroscientists, mathematicians and computer scientists is pioneering novel theoretical frameworks, computational tools and scientific methods to tackle the greatest scientific and societal challenges of this century, from climate change and declining biodiversity to understanding how living things work.
"Predictive Models of Forest Dynamics" and "Animal vs Wind Dispersal and the Robustness of Tree Species to Deforestation" are published in Science today and will also be available from www.research.microsoft.com/cambridge
|Contact: Rosanna Hill|
Microsoft Research Cambridge