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Researchers have solved the mysteries of Madagascar's biodiversity

Researchers have solved the mysteries of Madagascar's biodiversity

Erratic rains and rock erosion have made Madagascar a hotspot for plants. Swiss researchers have found this explanation for the island's extraordinary biodiversity in the Indian Ocean, according to a statement issued by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) on Thursday. Madagascar is home to more than 11,000 plant species, 80% of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

In collaboration with researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), WSL researchers led by Yi Liu showed in a study that uneven precipitation and rock erosion lead to persistent changes in the landscape. As a result, living spaces are frequently disconnected and reconnected. According to researchers, this process accelerates the emergence of new species adapted to changing habitat patterns. The results were published Thursday in the journal Science.

Researchers expressed concern about these findings in a WSL communication. “Our research shows that it has taken millions of years for landscape evolution to create new habitats and therefore new species,” researcher Loic Pélissier of ETH Zurich and WSL, who participated in the study, was quoted in the statement as saying. “Humans are on track to destroy biodiversity in just a few decades through large-scale climate interventions and destruction of natural habitats.”

Until now, one of the main reasons for the rise in biodiversity has been the movement of tectonic plates and the resulting formation of complex terrain, as WSL explained in the press release. But Madagascar does not fit this hypothesis at all. This is because tectonic activity in the country has been minimal over the past 100 million years. According to the researchers, the new theory should now be tested in other places with high biodiversity.

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