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Fires Help Maintain Diversity Among Species in the Brazilian Cerrado
09/01/2017 - 11h03
REINALDO JOSÉ LOPES
FROM SÃO PAULO
The only way to maintain diversity among species in Brazil's tropical savanna region known as the "Cerrado" - one of Brazil's richest yet most endangered biomes - is to set it on fire once in a while.
According to research done in Águas de Santa Bárbara (SP), without intermittent fires, the plants that inhabit the biome could disappear, giving rise to a significantly less diverse forest area.
Cerrado regions within the municipality of Águas de Santa Bárbara that were not set ablaze for three decades lost, on average, around 27% of their different plant species and 35% of their ant species.
When it comes to the unique species that only exist in that particular biome, the results were even more alarming: a 67% loss in terms of plant species and an 86% loss in terms of ant species.
The results were not entirely surprising since various kinds of plant species that inhabit the Cerrado seem to have evolved in such a way as to adapt to the fires that naturally occur due to the long periods of drought that mark Brazil's tropical savanna region.
In fact, several kinds of plants depend on the fires in order for their seeds to germinate. Other plants, like certain bushes or kinds of grass won't grow in denser areas, so the periodic fires help free up the terrain so they can flourish.
Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON
|According to research, without intermittent fires, the plants that inhabit the biome could disappear|