Study: Extinction of megafauna contributed to the spread of wildfires

American researchers have revealed a link between the extinction of large herbivores that disappeared thousands of years ago and a change in the map of wildfires in various regions of the world.

Climatologists link the outbreak of forest fires in recent years and the phenomenon of climate change, but these scientists are seeking to find a new and additional explanation for these fires by returning to the ancient past.

Wild animals can help reduce wildfires (Unsplash – Philip Swinburne)

Weeds fuel forest fires

و .وضحت studying Which was published in the American magazine Science on November 26, that weeds form the fuel for forest fires and that huge herbivores were devouring large quantities of them, and this reduces the chances of ignition of fires and also limits the speed of their spread.

In the period between 6 thousand and 50 thousand years ago, the world witnessed the extinction of a large number of huge animal species that feed on herbs, a period after which there was a significant increase in forest fires.

Study co-author Alison Karp of the Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, in the US, said: press release According to the university, they found that forest fires spread widely in places that have known the largest number of extinction waves.

The researchers conducted their study in cooperation with the Utah Museum of Natural History, which provided them with a list of the huge mammals that lived in the past in different regions of the world and became extinct, and compared the period of their extinction with the emergence of forest fires in about 410 regions.

The researchers found that South America lost the largest number of herbivores, by 83 percent, followed by North America by 68 percent. Therefore, forest fires knew a large spread, unlike Africa and Australia, which did not know a large spread of forest fires because the extinction was not widespread.

One of the findings of this study is the importance of grazing in fighting forest fires (Unsplash – John Towner)

Grazing and fighting forest fires

One of the findings of this study is the importance of grazing in combating forest fires and limiting their rapid spread, as they concluded that the consumption of land weeds by wild and pastoral animals that constitute fire fuel in itself puts an end to the spread of forest fires and reduces their speed.

“This work clearly highlights the importance of the presence of herbivores in limiting or mitigating the spread of wildfires and also in adapting to climate change, given that this phenomenon is currently the main cause,” study lead researcher Carla Stefer of Yale University’s Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology said in the press release. spread of forest fires.

The researcher added that it is better to take this issue into account in all forest firefighting operations, “We must pay attention to the role that herbivores can play in all forest fire prediction and control operations.”

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