IRVINE, Calif., April 13 (UPI) — A U.S. ecologist says she’s discovered birds, bats and lizards play an important role in preserving plant species in face of global climate change.
University of California-Irvine Assistant Professor Kailen Mooney and colleagues said they analyzed more than 100 experiments conducted on four continents and discovered such insect-feeding animals increase plant growth by reducing the abundance of plant-feeding insects and the damage they cause to plants that help mitigate global warming.
“Our efforts solidify the importance of birds, bats, lizards and other similar animals to ecosystem health, and underscores the importance of conserving these species in the face of global change,” Mooney said.
“It has long been hypothesized that birds and other insect-feeding animals may protect plants by keeping plant-feeding insects in check …,” Mooney added. “Our study provides the most comprehensive support of this hypothesis to date. It shows that despite feeding on predatory insects, birds, bats and lizards still act as plant protectors by having net negative effects on plant-feeding insects.”
The study that included scientists from the Universities of Maryland, Missouri and Toledo; the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, Panama; and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington appeared in the April 5 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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