Friday, February 03, 2012

New biodiversity map of the Andes shows species in dire need of protection

The Cloud-forest Screech-owl
is endemic to the Andes
I quote from BioMed Central:
The Andes-Amazon basin of Peru and Bolivia is one of the most biologically rich and rapidly changing areas of the world. A new study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Ecology has used information collected over the last 100 years by explorers and from satellite images which reveals detailed patterns of species and ecosystems that occur only in this region. Worryingly, the study also finds that many of these unique species and ecosystems are lacking vital national level protection. 
The Andes provide many, many habitats from their eastern foothills in the Amazon forest to their western foothills rising from the Pacific Coast, to the very high mountains and mountain plateaus. Due to the rugged topography, many specific ecosystems are small and isolated from similar zones. I recall driving through areas of the Andes and passing through a small desert area with an arid microclimate and quickly finding another area with lush vegetation symbolic of generous precipitation. The result is exceptional biodiversity, but a biodiversity with many species present only in small numbers, and thus likely to become extinct with any disruption of their environment.

The reported study is of course very useful in identifying more fully the problem and could provide a useful tool in its solution.

However, I am very sorry to say that I fear a lot of this biodiversity will be lost. Poor people will seek to utilize the land to support themselves and their families and in so doing will destroy ecosystems vital to the survival of their species, and governments facing all sorts of other problems will be unwilling or unable to stop the process.

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