Science & Tech

The food chain is about to collapse, scientists warn

The food chain is about to collapse, scientists warn
La Niña Likely to Severely Impact Global Food Supply Chain

A new study is warning people that a food chain collapse could be imminent due to animal extinction.

The food chain, or food web, is a network of links that shows how animals, plants, and humans interact via food. It informs how the smallest of organisms, like plankton, are necessary so larger predators, like whales, can survive.

But as animals continue to suffer from extinction, the food chain in interrupted. And now the study from Rice University is warning that the food chain could collapse.

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“When an animal disappears from an ecosystem, its loss reverberates across the web of connections that link all species in that ecosystem,” lead of study and ecologist Evan Fricke said in a press release.

"We estimate that more than 50% of mammal food web links have disappeared and the mammals most likely to decline, both in the past and now, are key for mammal food web complexity.”

To find this, researches mapped data about the food chain from 130,000 years ago and taught the machine to map "who ate who" based on specific characteristics of species.

Once the machine learned the probability one species would prey on another, it was able to predict predator-prey interactions between species that have not been seen before.

Rice University ecologist, and the study's senior author, Lydia Beaudrot said the method could predict who-eats-who with 90 per cent accuracy.

The data was then charted and uncovered that the worldwide food chain is at risk of collapsing due to animal decline.

"The modeling showed that land mammal food webs have degraded much more than would be expected if random species had gone extinct,” Fricke said.

“Rather than resilience under extinction pressure, these results show a slow-motion food web collapse caused by selective loss of species with central food web roles.”

However, there is hope.

Fricke says animal restoration in certain prats of the world reverse some effects and prevent others.

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