By Peter Makwanya
THE natural ecosystem is quite diverse and provides complex interactions of nature through living or non-living parts. A wide range of animals, plants, creatures and other organisms, altogether form a bubble of life hence life goes on. A lot has been said about human activities and the human hand, contributing much to global emissions and subsequent warming, all pointing towards ecological consequences.
The ecosystem’s roles to deliver and nurture the planet have been severely compromised by the adverse impacts of climate change. How climate change has impacted species populations, has affected the availability of ecosystems services.
Climate-induced changes, have impacted on changes in rainfall patterns, watersheds and buffers. It has also resulted in extreme heat or temperatures, wildfires, reduced harvests, power generation, among others, becoming our daily and usual climate.
For these reasons, climate change has had far-reaching effects on species, the ecosystem services and species interactions. These are what the eyes can see and nothing much has been said about climate impacts with regards to what the eyes cannot see.
As climate change has impacted species populations and movements, birds and large animals’ role of carrying and dispersing seeds to far away places has been affected. This is a vital process that people have not been able to see with the naked eye, very useful and ecosystemic transformative.
Birds and large animals’ role of dispersing plant seeds has been compromised, through restricted movement or death, due to the negative impacts of climate change.
The reduction of bird numbers and extinction of some large animals mean that their movements have reduced also. This also means their roles to disperse and transport seed varieties and species to far away places have been minimised also.
Animals, especially ruminants, eat plants and spread the seeds through their droppings, only for the seeds to germinate elsewhere, contributing to ecosystem varieties and forest value addition. As climate change impacts have reduced the number of birds and large animals globally, many plant species and colonies can no longer be shifted to other locations.
The shifting of seeds from various locations in the world, by birds and large animals is a natural process that escape the eyes.
In this regard, climate change has reduced the number of seed carriers (birds and animals) thereby affecting plant adaptation to climate change.
If there are less birds and animals which eat the fruits and plants, or less flowing water to transport plant seeds to different locations, then seed movement and multiplication is minimised.
The emergence of new forest growth varieties and plant kingdoms is compromised as well. As such, there will be less value and less creativity in forest renewals and transformations.
As climate warms, birds change territories to habitable and safer places while large mammals normally die, thus their movements are restricted or their reproduction is affected.
This also includes aquatic creatures reducing in numbers, sizes or dying. Furthermore, these processes compromise seeing and believing.
Natural bird and large animal movement can no longer cope with the accelerating impacts of climate change. International migratory birds are no longer visible, they have disappeared and only memories of yesteryear are left.
Negative impacts of climate change through rising temperatures and reduced precipitation, water scarcities and moisture stress, have affected migration patterns of creatures of all sizes, birds and large animals being the most affected. While plant and fruit seeds cannot move on their own, besides being blown away by the wind or carried by running water, they require the services of birds and animals to disperse them.
Not many seeds may find their way to various locations if birds and animals are not there. The decrease in plant and animal seed movement also reduces the natural interactions in the ecosystem and its services.
The colourful nature of the ecosystem, the gloss and the picturesque view of the forests has gradually been fading, leading to the disappearance and extinction of the language of nature. Nature can hardly speak with vibrancy anymore.
Forests are no longer the hive of activity they used to be while nature interactions failure has led to the bubble bursting. Creatures can no longer crawl, swim, fly or move to their locations of choice at will due to climate change. They get grounded, stagnant, stressed and die, leaving life without any meaning and relevance at all.
Negative impacts of climate change are eating into the natural wonderlands, reducing their beauty, serenity and seasonal flourishing. While trees, grass and bushes clothe the forests, rivers, streams, wetlands and pond, add moisture quantities and nutrients to the ecosystem. Birds provide music, various animal sounds provide communication, with butterflies providing colour, all a necessary bubble of life stabilising the natural ecosystem.
Although no one is able to count the number of birds and animals in the forests, their decline is evident through the dullness, quietness and lack of activity in the forests.
The interconnectedness between climate change and biodiversity crises has become more evident than never before.