Toxic algae in waterways: the harbinger of potential mass extinction on Earth?

the essential A Swedish study warns of the presence of algae and toxic bacteria in rivers and lakes that could herald mass extinction.

A Swedish study published in the journal Nature Communications led by Chris Mays, paleobotanist, warns about the similarities between “the great death” which had wiped out 90% of the species on earth 251 million years ago and the current situation.

Indeed, the researchers found that the blooms of toxic algae and bacteria during the “great death” are similar to the recent microbial profusion in lakes and rivers. This phenomenon is linked to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation in particular.

“We have the possibility of preventing these toxic blooms”

Microbial blooms turn freshwater habitats into “dead zones” that can suffocate other species, thus increasing the acceleration of extinction events. They can also delay ecosystem recovery by millions of years, the science team noted.

These microbial communities are an integral part of freshwater ecosystems around the world, but the effects of human-induced climate change, including forest fires, deforestation, soil loss and drought, are causing a new boom in proliferation.

“Unlike species that have suffered mass extinctions in the past, we have the ability to prevent these toxic blooms by keeping our waterways clean and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” concludes Chris Mays.

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