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What if biodiversity allowed us to read our future? This is the observation of the team of Régis CEREGHINO, a researcher at the University of Toulouse who studies the bromeliads with a magnifying glass. Many of these flowering plants shelter small reservoirs of rainwater that contain algae, bacteria, fungi, invertebrate larvae and small frogs. True miniature versions of lakes, bromeliads, among other characteristics, respond quickly to change. While it takes tens or even hundreds of years for a large lake to respond to a mutation, bromeliads respond within a few weeks.


(c) Jean-François Carrias

AWe can manipulate their environment to simulate deforestation or climate change. From their response, researchers can draw ecological rules. When climate change is simulated where rains are scarce, bromeliads dry up. The first species to be affected are small predators that then release pressure on their prey. The consequences are many, including for man. In these stagnant systems are larvae of mosquitoes which, in the absence of predators, are likely to swarm and potentially transmit viruses. The moral of the story ? Biodiversity is a set of interacting species. The elimination of species in a context of global change can have cascading consequences and a (very) high cost to society.

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