Extinction of large animals “Megafauna” damaged nutrient distribution system
As per a latest studies, large animals acted as carriers of key nutrients to plants and animals over thousands of years. According to the findings, large animals which scientists call ‘Megafauna’ worked as key nutrient distributing arteries which spread vital nutrient substances like phosphorous which are essential for the growth of plants.
The studies show that the extinction of the megafauna 12,000 years back wiped out one of the main means of transporting nutrients far from the rivers creating a nutrient deficiency which continues to affect plant and animal life in parts of the region today.
What is ‘Megafauna’?
As per researchers, South America was crowded with large animals which are named as ‘megafauna‘ a term for animals with a body mass of more than 44kg (the size of a large dog).
How did Megafauna play role in distributing nutrients?
Due to the large size of the megafauna, they eat and move more than small animals, they have a particularly important role in transporting nutrients into areas where the soil is infertile otherwise. For example:
In South America, most nutrients originate in the Andes mountain range and are washed into the forests through the river system. On dry land these nutrients are in short supply unless they are transported through animal dung and bodies. While small animals distribute nutrients over small distances large animals have a much greater range. These megafauna which ate in high quantity and absorbing more phosphorous acted as a key reserve of phosphorous which they transported dry areas through their excretory products or through their bodies after death, thus, playing a significant role in nutrient distribution.