Magazine article Science News

Who Should Stay and Who Could Go: Carefully Removing Species Can Prevent More Extinctions

Magazine article Science News

Who Should Stay and Who Could Go: Carefully Removing Species Can Prevent More Extinctions

Article excerpt

A little human meddling may prevent the mess of extinctions that can ripple through disturbed ecosystems.

A new analysis of how perturbations propagate through a network of organisms reveals that when an ecosystem is already off-killer, proactively removing particular species can halt the cascade of destruction that may follow. The approach, described online January 25 in Nature Communications, could help well-defined areas such as islands deal with the effects of invasive species.

"At the end of the day, methods based on inflicting locally controlled damage--despite being damaging--can have a positive effect on the entire network," says study coauthor Adilson Motter of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

To understand how such tinkering plays out, Motter, an expert in complex networks, and his Northwestern colleague Sagar Sahasrabudhe developed an algorithm that takes into account two classic ecological models of species interactions. By simulating who eats whom and how the exchange of biomass leads to changes in population levels over time, the researchers could identify species whose removal or suppression would contain damage. Tactics such as birth control for deer that are overrunning an area, or encouraging fishing of a species, may end up helping multiple other species, the analysis suggests.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Human interference to compensate for previous human interference has had some success. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.