Scientists at the University of Southampton, the University of Bangor and the School of Oriental and African Studies in the UK have found that large natural ecosystems, such as rainforests and coral reefs, are being destroyed much faster than previously thought. Amazonian forests can disappear in just 49 years, and Caribbean coral reefs in just 15 years. This was reported in a press release on Phys.org.
Researchers studied data on recorded changes in 40 aquatic and terrestrial environments. It turned out that although the catastrophic collapse in large ecosystems lasted longer, the rate of destruction was significantly higher than in small ecosystems. These results are explained by the fact that large environments consist of a large number of subsystems formed by species and their habitats. This modularity initially provides resistance to stress, but after passing a critical threshold, it also causes accelerated collapse.
Thus, ecosystems that have existed for thousands of years can be destroyed in less than 50 years. The destructive effect of changes in environmental conditions is expressed, for example, in forest fires, which will more often occur against the backdrop of global climate change.