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Properties of ecosystems that are vulnerable during eco-fusion [Scientific Reports]

par Frédéric Magné - publié le , mis à jour le

When two ecosystems with separate evolutionary histories come into contact (eco-fusion), reciprocal invasions occur during their fusion. Asymmetries in the migration direction or extinction rate then occur (e.g., during the Great American Biotic Interchange, GABI). Hypotheses have been proposed to describe this process, but the ecosystem properties have not been adequately discussed. To identify the ecosystem properties that create vulnerability to species loss during eco-fusion, we conducted computer simulations of the fusion of ecosystems with independent evolutionary histories. With asymmetrical species extinction rates, the ecosystem with a higher extinction rate had a shorter food chain, a higher ratio of animal species to plant species, and a lower ratio of carnivores to herbivores. Most ecosystems that have undergone isolated evolution are vulnerable. These results may explain the vulnerability of South America’s ecosystem during the GABI and that of modern Australia.

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