The number of animal species living in a region depends upon the number of plant species, according to a study involving researchers from Bern and Zurich.
This means that a decrease in the variety of flora will have a negative effect on the fauna, as Bern University announced on Thursday. The study was based on an experiment conducted in the German city of Jena.
It showed that the plant kingdom determines how many types of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores can live in a given area. As the researchers pointed out, that contradicts the idea that the predatory animals at the top of the food chain steer biodiversity.
Animals that eat plants are most affected by a decrease in the variety of plants but other animals suffer as well. The biologists also found that the number of animal species does not increase when the amount of vegetation experiences a fertiliser-driven growth spurt.
Nature, the international weekly journal of science, has published the study online.
swissinfo.ch and agencies