The extinction of plant or animal species due to extreme environmental changes increases the risk of a "domino effect of extinction" that can annihilate all life on earth, according to a new study published on Tuesday.
The worst scenario of "coexistences", where an organism is extinguished because it depends on another condemned species, was based on a study of more than 2,000 virtual lands subjected to a series of catastrophic incidents, including global warming or an impact of asteroids
The study, published Tuesday in Scientific Reports, found that such environmental changes could wipe out all life on earth.
For example, a plant pollinated by a species of bee will eventually die if the bee dies out.
"Or, a cheetah that focuses on particular antelope species, or for example, koalas that only eat certain types of eucalyptus. [leaves]"Said study co-author Corey Bradshaw, a professor at Flinders University in South Australia.
The Italian researcher, Giovanni Strona, lead author of the study, said that because all species were connected in a network of life, "even the most tolerant species finally succumb to extinction when the less tolerant species they depend on" disappear. .
The researchers found that, in the case of global warming, the combination of heat intolerance combined with coexistence means that an increase of five to six degrees worldwide would eliminate most of life on the planet.
"Not taking into account this domino effect gives an unrealistic and extremely optimistic perspective on the impact of future climate change," Bradshaw said.