United States Biodiversity Continues To Shrink

image:ren west:wikicommons

By Jonathan Parker

It’s no secret to most people that our environment pays a price for human expansion and ingenuity. To the credit of most, we take our concern to the next level. Many people, even in small ways, take steps to be conscientious about their interaction with natural habitats. Unfortunately, we are still seeing damage, and a recent scientific study highlights just how much we have lost.

The research article, titled “Trends in amphibian occupancy in the United States” was co-authored by several members of the United States Geological Survey, The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and other organizations.

Washington Post writes:

Frogs, toads and salamanders continue to vanish from the American landscape at an alarming pace, with seven species — including Colorado’s boreal toad and Nevada’s yellow-legged frog — facing 50 percent drops in their numbers within seven years if the current rate of decline continues, according to new government research.

The decline of many species is not a phenomenon limited to the U.S. alone. Worldwide, many animal populations are in decline. First in most people’s minds would be the bees. Finally, after years of questions, researchers are able to pinpoint reasons why the bee population may be in decline, and steps that could be taken to reverse these disturbing trends.

While frogs, lizards and other amphibians might not seem as vital to our food supply as the bees, they are still an irreplaceable part of our ecosystem. According to the “rivet hypothesis,” each loss of species seems very small and insignificant on its own – and at first. Then it is suddenly devastating to the whole ecology. The theory was formed by studying rivets on airplane wings – small and insignificant, but the loss of one too many could bring down the whole plane.

And it’s not a small decline. According to the research, at least 30% of the various species are declining by 11% every year. And this decline has been watched carefully for years now.

The journal Nature studied the declines of the past 20+ years and was able to pinpoint causes in several species. Namely, atrazine, an herbicide, and a fertilizer compound, phosphate.

It shouldn’t surprise you that these are both used extensively in corn and grain production. Together they were found responsible for a 74% increase in parasites that damaged amphibian populations.

So what solutions could be offered? And at this point would they do any good?

It has been proven, repeatedly, that our overuse of chemicals leads to extensive and permanent damage of ecosystems and the species that inhabit them. People are starting to wake up and take a stand against this rampant disregard for our future.

Unfortunately, while our state and national leaders continue to protect and profit from said practices, the delicate balance of our ecosystem will continue to tip toward oblivion. And all the science in the world can’t return extinct species; well, unless they are cloned (think: research $$$ and patent profits) Of course it is better to simply prevent their demise in the first place.

Additional sources:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v455/n7217/edsumm/e081030-12.html
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064347

Jonathan Parker is an EMT-Paramedic and Preparedness Instructor with a love for emergency medicine, self-sufficiency and homesteading. His goal is to empower people towards a natural and sustainable lifestyle.

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