Conservationists have called for better protection of endangered amphibians, warning that the loss of crocodiles and alligators would have a devastating effect on other species and upset the balance of the ecosystem.
According to scientists, more than half of all crocodilians, which include crocs, alligators and caimans, are in danger of extinction.
Crocodiles are said to be threatened by habitat loss, fishing, hunting and the construction of dams on rivers.
Each species has distinct but important roles to play in the larger ecosystem, such as digging burrows to provide safe habitats for other animals or eating invasive agricultural pests.
Up to 38% of crucial ecological functions, according to researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), are in danger of disappearing.
Many people perceive crocodilians as top predators that catch zebras or other prey in wildlife documentaries, however, this behavior is only a small part of that of a single species, according to Phoebe Griffith, the lead author of the study.
She added that the 28 species of crocodilians that exist today are surprisingly different from each other due to evolution. Understanding and preserving global biodiversity and assessing the magnitude of what the world stands to lose if these key players disappear requires assessing the various ecological roles that these species play.
The researchers determined which species were most in need of conservation in their study.
By measuring traits like skull shape, body size and habitat use that affect their behavior in their environment, they also looked at the different roles they play.
Crocodilians play a crucial role in the ecology of the environment they inhabit.
Some animals, like the saltwater crocodile, can move between freshwater and saltwater ecosystems and travel hundreds of miles across the open ocean.
Griffith, a Ph.D. ZSL student, added that the loss of the species would mean the permanent loss of the important roles it plays.
Investigations into what these roles have just begun, however, some species may become extinct before anyone has had a chance to find out their position in the ecosystems where they are found.
6 out of 10
This is of particular concern because many of the crocodile species that the group highlights as ecologically unique are also those that are currently threatened with extinction.
According to the study, protecting endangered crocodiles would support global conservation of species diversity due to their distinct evolutionary history.
But of the 10 species with the most distinctive ecological roles, six are listed as critically endangered. These are species whose populations are so low that they are considered functionally extinct in the majority of their historic habitats.
Researchers have also found that certain traits, such as high reproductive rates, high levels of habitat adaptation, or the ability to withstand extreme weather conditions, can help animals survive.
The study identified Asia as having the most threatened hotspots, and the coasts and freshwaters there are vulnerable and under significant human pressure.
ZSL’s EDGE of Existence program has named the Chinese alligator and gharial as two of the most endangered species.
EDGE postdoctoral researcher Dr. Rikki Gumbs said crocodilians have evolved into an amazing range of shapes, sizes and behaviors, from tiny burrowing alligators to huge marine reptiles.
Sadly, many of the world’s most distinctive crocodilians are in danger of extinction, and so are the roles they play in their ecosystems.
Also Read: Giant Dwarf Crocodiles: Newly Discovered Reptile Species Once Hunted Our Human Ancestors
Establish a priority group
According to the group’s research, it is possible to preserve much of the diversity threatened with extinction by prioritizing conservation efforts for the most distinctive species.
Interestingly, preserving the evolutionary history of crocodilians can also effectively protect endangered functions of these animals.
Essentially, by drawing inspiration from the distant past, we can preserve the diversity of crocodilians—and the benefits that diversity brings to ecosystems—for the foreseeable future.
The gharial has a long, narrow snout, perfect for catching fish and particularly adapted to life in water. Its presence suggests a healthy and clean waterway.
According to ZSL, it monitors reptiles and helps them coexist with humans with the help of partners in Nepal and India as well as local fishing communities.
Professor Jeffrey Lang, co-author of the current study from the Gharial Ecology Project, said preserving crocodilians depends on people. Conservation of the world’s alligators, crocs, caimans and gharials will become a priority if these dinosaur relatives are valued.
Importance of conservation
The first step needed to ultimately conserve both the most impressive crocodilians, as well as their many fascinating and diverse lifestyles, is to study the species and understand the importance of these aquatic predators, in the places where they still live. .
Locals need to know and appreciate these wetland resident species, such as crocodilians, through community events and environmental education programs in village schools.
Griffith added that their research underscores how endangered crocodilians are and how urgent conservation efforts for many of these species are needed if people are to safeguard their ecological roles in freshwater ecosystems. ‘they live.
This is crucial because freshwater habitats are the most endangered on the planet and provide a variety of essential environmental services, Newsweek reports.
Related Article: Endangered Turtles and Crocodiles Among Other Reptile Species
© 2022 NatureWorldNews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.