Amazonian Landscaper

You need WHAT to regrow a rainforest?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Fire season in the Amazon means acres of deforestation. But there might be a way to regrow some of those trees. How? With help from a rainforest native – the tapir! This fruit-loving mammal is shaped like a pig with the snout of an anteater. But how can tapirs help?

Enter Lucas Paolucci and colleagues from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute. They wondered if the tapir’s big appetite for all things fruity could help disperse seeds.

The researchers monitored the tapirs’ movements through both burnt and unburnt rainforests. They counted the seeds left behind in — you guessed it! — tapir poop! Talk about a smelly job. Results? Tapirs dispersed more than THREE times the seeds in burnt areas versus unburnt areas!

Natural seed-eaters like tapirs could help disperse seeds after fires or natural disasters. These fruit-lovers not only help to rebuild the rainforest, but they do it for free!

Holy Froot Loops! What a scoop on tapir poop!