Humanity is pushing thousands of species to the brink of extinction. The largest analysis to date of the conservation status of the planet’s reptiles points to that 21% of these animalsthe equivalent to one in fiveit’s found at risk of extinction by the loss and destruction of habitats, hunting and the advance of the climate crisis. The human footprint on ecosystems also increases the risk of disappearance for half the turtles in the world almost 60% of crocodile species that inhabit the Earth.
These alarming datapublished this Wednesday in the scientific journal ‘Nature’, emphasize the “wide variety of dangers that these animals are currently facing” and that, if they continue like this, could cause the disappearance of thousands of species. According to the scientific team responsible for this analysisamong the 10,196 species of reptiles analyzed at least 1,829 could disappear in the coming decades because of the human impact on natural ecosystems and the planet.
The main threat for these animals it has to do with destruction of their ecosystems. According to the researchers who have carried out this analysis, the transformation of natural grounds for agriculture Y urban development They currently stand out among the main risk factors for amphibians. There is also concern about the impact of activities such as hunting and fishingwhich experts define as “the main threat to turtles and crocodiles of the world”.
The degradation of ecosystems, further accelerated by the advance of the climate crisis and global warming, raises the risk of extinction to the point of reaching 30% of reptiles who live in forest ecosystems or forested and 14% of animals living in arid environments. In the case of endemic specieswhose population is reduced to just a few islands on the globe, there is also concern that the introduction of invasive species could increase exponentially the risk of extinction of these animals. Especially in the case of lizards.
Loss of natural heritage
“If these species of reptiles are lost, the world will lose 15.6 billion years of evolutionary history in which an infinity of adaptations to live in different ecosystems are included”, emphasizes the scientific team responsible for this analysis. One of the most illustrative examples, the experts explain, is the case of the tuatara (or sphenodonts); the only living member of a lineage that evolved in the Triassic approximately 250 million years ago and now, due to human incursion, it faces extinction.
Along these same lines, the Catalan researcher Jofre Butcher, one of the scientists who has led the titanic report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the impacts of the climate crisis. “Every time a species disappears, it’s like losing a piece of art in a museum. Unique species are disappearingwith thousands of years of history, contribute their intrinsic value ecosystems”, commented the expert in an interview with this newspaper just after the publication of the analysis.
The latest major analysis of the loss of biodiversity on the planet, led by the group of experts on climate change of the United Nations, estimates that if the global temperature rises three degrees, which right now seems the most likely scenario, the 30% of all animals on the planet would be at high risk of extinction. Right now, without going any further, field studies confirm the “loss of hundreds of local species” Y “mass mortality episodes” due to extremes of heat in terrestrial and marine ecosystems around the world.