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Thailand | Study in Khao Yai NP shows fruit-eating seed dispersers key to effective carbon storage

This past summer, the world was gripped by the flames that tore through the Amazon rainforest and released huge volumes of trapped carbon dioxide in the process. Half a world away, far from the social media hashtags, a much smaller patch of tropical forest was revealing the secret of what makes these landscapes such potent carbon sinks: Wildlife. A teeming abundance of it.

A new paper published in Nature suggests nearly one-third of tree species in Khao Yai National Park, a reserve in central Thailand just two-and-a-half hours from Bangkok, depend on seed dispersal by large fruit-eating animals, or large-bodied frugivores (LBF). If these animals disappear — a process known as defaunation and driven by hunting and snaring — above-ground carbon stocks in these forests could go down by up to 3 percent, the study finds.

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