Animals can also find themselves in dire straits.
Due to changing temperatures and deforestation, they are running out of suitable safe havens and homes, so they are increasingly under stress. Climate change, among other things, also encourages competition between individual species, which makes it very difficult for animals to survive.
Mammals in the Atlantic Forest are particularly affected. It is the second largest forest in South America and offers a home to many animal and plant species. Its area is decreasing every year due to human interventions. Because of its depletion, many species are even threatened with extinction.
The research team, which studied rodents and marsupials there, therefore wanted to examine how different animals experience stress in increasingly unfavourable conditions.
They compared the stress hormones of those living in more damaged areas of the forest and those staying in pristine areas. They analysed their hair for several weeks, as stress hormones are deposited there.
They found that stress hormone levels were much higher in animals living in areas more affected by deforestation. Animals from less exposed environments, however, showed much lower levels of stress.
Stress in itself is not harmful to animals. For example, it can allow them to escape quickly, as this releases additional energy reserves. But prolonged stress, from which suffer endangering animals from injured areas, can lead to disease.
»If we have a lot of animals all together under long-term stress, new viruses and other diseases can develop in them. These animals could then passed it on and pass it on to humans,« warns David Kabelik, one of the researchers in the study.
Deforestation is the eradication of forests, for example due to industrial needs or the expansion of agricultural land.
Points to Consider
- When do you feel stress?
- How do you deal with stress?
- Why is species conservation important?
The original version of this article was published on April 14th.