An Important Word to Know: Defaunation

Most (if not all) of Little Red Wagon’s customers know that we love to #NurtureNative. And, while we often focus on the importance of native plants as sources of food for our birds, butterflies, and other animals, there’s a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals. For instance, studies indicate that animals pollinate, on average, 78% of the plants in temperate plant communities and 94% in tropical plant communities. Other research shows more than half of the world’s plant species need animals to disperse their seeds and, in some ecosystems, up to 90% of the trees rely on animals for seed dispersal.

Unfortunately, in a report just published in Science, researchers from Rice University, the University of Maryland, Iowa State University and Aarhus University show that defaunation (“the loss of animals in all its myriad forms, including extinction, extirpation, or population declines”) is negatively impacting the ability of animal-dispersed plants to track climate change. Indeed, defaunation has reduced the ability of animal-dispersed plants to move to a more suitable environment as climate changes by some 60%.

As explained by Evan Fricke, the study’s first author, in a companion piece issued by Rice University:

“Some plants live hundreds of years, and their only chance to move is during the short period when they're a seed moving across the landscape….If there are no animals available to eat their fruits or carry away their nuts, animal-dispersed plants aren’t moving very far.”

This study underscores the importance of all that Little Red Wagon Native Nursery and its sister organization, the Tampa Bay Butterfly Foundation, does. We work to restore native ecosystems. We work to connect these ecosystems by providing safe corridors for animals to traverse. And we strive to educate all generations about the importance of working to heal the earth.

We sponsor numerous events and have many volunteer opportunities for like-minded people. Why not reach out and join us in-person or on social media? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and help us #NurtureNative. Our future depends on it.