Llama Landscapers

Nature can heal itself? LLAMA tell you how!

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

Glaciers are melting rapidly worldwide, leaving behind harsh environments without plant and animal life. The poor soil conditions prevent new ecosystems from developing for decades. Could animals help speed up this process?

Anaïs Zimmer from the University of Texas, Austin and an international team investigated.

Researchers introduced native llamas to the base of the shrinking Uruashraju glacier in Peru. Over three years, they analyzed the soil composition and plant coverage of the land.

Results? Llamas INCREASED vital nutrients for plant growth, like carbon and nitrogen. How? Heh. Take a guess. Llama poop was the nutrient source. Llamas ultimately increased plant coverage by FIFTY-SEVEN percent and introduced FOUR new plant species.

Climate change is negatively remodeling many environments. But, animals like llamas can be used to buffer these damaging changes!

Don’t have a green thumb? No probLLAMA! Try a brown one!

Reference: Zimmer, A., Beach, T., Riva Regalado, S., Salcedo Aliaga, J., Cruz Encarnación, R., & Anthelme, F. (2023). Llamas (Llama glama) enhance proglacial ecosystem development in Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Scientific reports, 13(1), 15936. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-41458-x