LIFE SCIENCE

Nature reports that more than one-fifth of the world’s reptiles face extinction

Image source: JOHANNES ELS

According to a first global assessment of endangered reptiles published april 27 in Nature, more than a fifth of reptile species are likely to become extinct due to threats such as agricultural production, deforestation, urban development and invasive species.

Bruce Young and colleagues of the Virginia-based Biodiversity Organization Nature Reserve compiled data from more than 900 researchers around the world to assess the extinction risk of 10,196 species of reptiles, including turtles, crocodiles and lizards, and their conservation status under the IUCN classification. It was found that there were 1829 species (21.1%Species are fragile, endangered, or critically endangered.

This means that most reptiles are in better shape than amphibians (40.7% endangered) and mammals (25.4% endangered), but slightly worse than birds (13.6% endangered).

In addition, the analysis showed that 31 species of reptiles were extinct. Taking into account factors such as habitat degradation and population size, they estimate that 21.1 percent of reptile species are likely to become extinct in the next three generations or the next 10 years (whichever is longer).

The threat to various reptiles is uneven. Of the 10 main taxa, sea turtles and their close relatives are the most at risk of extinction. The researchers say hunting and fishing are particularly frightening threats. Perhaps the rarest turtle in the world is the spotted turtle, and only 3 are known to survive in the wild.

For crocodiles and their close relatives, the danger is almost as serious. In India and Nepal, the critically endangered Ganges crocodile is found in only a few places, with fewer than 250 remaining. As one of the longest crocodiles, it was hunted to obtain traditional medicines and was also accidentally caught in fishing nets.

The researchers found that agricultural production, deforestation and urban development pose the greatest threats, with species at highest risk in tropical regions such as Southeast Asia, West Africa, northern Madagascar and the Caribbean archipelago. Invasive species also pose a threat. On Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, for example, the invading white-ringed snake has pushed the blue-tongued dragon and other reptiles to extinction.

The results are worrying because these animals play a vital role in the ecosystem. “Reptiles are beneficial to humans because they help control pests and rodents.” Blair Hedges of Temple University in the United States said, “They play a key intermediate role in the food chain between insect and reptile predators.” ”

There are relatively few conservation programs for reptiles, but efforts to protect other animals may have helped them to some extent.“Most of the protected areas for birds, mammals and amphibians may also help protect many threatened reptiles,” Young said. ”

These findings will be for the United NationsBiodiversity ConferenceThe negotiation of COP15 provides the basis. The meeting has been postponed until this fall with the aim of reaching a global agreement to protect wildlife. “Hopefully, they can set reasonable goals and take meaningful steps.” Young said.

“This information is critical to designing effective conservation measures, understanding which reptile species are likely to benefit from existing efforts, and which species in need of protection lack attention.” Nisha Owen of the “edge” conservation group said.

David Tilman of the University of Minnesota said: “Protecting reptiles and mammals requires both a massive expansion of protected area networks and a rapid increase in crop yields, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. (Source: China Science Daily Wang Fang)

Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1038/S41586-022-04664-7

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