Wild pigs add to world's growing climate woes: Aussie scientist
SYDNEY, July 22 (Xinhua) -- An international research involving Australian researchers has found an unlikely culprit adding to the ever-increasing global climate woes, the wild pigs.
Environmental scientist Dr Christopher O'Bryan from the University of Queensland (UQ) said the pigs release huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) as they energetically root their way through the soil in search of food. O'Bryan and his team estimate the pigs' accumulated efforts equate to about 4.9 million metric tonnes of CO2 each year, which is the equivalent of the exhaust from 1.1 million cars.
Their findings, published in Global Change Biology this week, are based on data using predictive population models of the pigs and advanced mapping techniques to pinpoint the climate damage they wreak, as they forage across some 124,000 square km in five continents.
"This is an enormous amount of land, and this not only affects soil health and carbon emissions, but it also threatens biodiversity and food security that are crucial for sustainable development," O'Bryan said.
"Wild pigs are just like tractors ploughing through fields, turning over soil to find food. Since soil contains nearly three times as much carbon than in the atmosphere, even a small fraction of carbon emitted from soil has the potential to accelerate climate change."
O'Bryan told Xinhua on Thursday there were about 3 million wild pigs throughout Australia's wetlands and river systems, with Queensland being particularly infested.
"These pigs were introduced into Australia with European settlement. They don't have a natural niche in this country's ecosystem," he said.
Fellow researcher Nicholas Patton from New Zealand's University of Canterbury, said, "Wild pig control will definitely require cooperation and collaboration across multiple jurisdictions, and our work is but one piece of the puzzle, helping managers better understand their impacts."
"More work needs to be done, but in the interim, we should continue to protect and monitor ecosystems and their soil which are susceptible to invasive species via loss of carbon." Enditem