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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tapirs and the survival of fruiting plants

A Baird's tapir on the Macal River in Belize
Photo by Sharon Matola, 2001

There is an interesting note in this article on Shifting Baselines that helps put modern-day tapirs into perspective regarding their role in helping to preserve not only the rainforest, but life on Earth as we know it. The photo above could not be taken today, as a dam on the Macal River has so drastically altered this vital ecosystem of Belize that it no longer functions in its ancient capacity. To quote the final sentence of the article: "They warn that the fast-paced decline of those animals in many forests today poses a serious threat for these unique [fruiting] plant species." I recommend reading the whole thing. It's an eye-opener.

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