Protecting Wildlife in the CaribbeanOn 10월 6, 2022 by Bennie Scott
The Caribbean region is a unique place for wildlife. There are 167 species of freshwater fish and birds that call this part of the world home, along with over 100 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Despite the diversity of the area, there are several threats to the region’s biodiversity. These include climate change, development, and overfishing. However, there are many things you can do to help protect the wildlife of the Caribbean.
167 species of freshwater fish
The Caribbean Islands Hotspot supports 167 species of freshwater fish. In addition to a diverse range of species, the region is also home to many species that are endemic to just one island. This makes it critical to study this region’s ecology.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the decline of the inland wetland ecosystems. These include over-abstraction of surface and ground waters, pollution, and human interference. It is estimated that 70-75% of inland wetlands have been lost in the last 100 years.
In the Neotropical region, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands, the inland wetland ecosystems have been harmed by environmental pollutants, hydroelectric dams, and overfishing. Most of these effects are felt by local communities. They affect local habitats and livelihoods.
Genetic diversity is a key concern in the conservation of Neotropical freshwater fish. Knowledge of genetic diversity will help develop conservation strategies and policies for the region.
Studies on the physiological effects of toxicants and other chemicals have helped provide insights into the ecological and physiologic behavior of Neotropical freshwater fish. However, the lack of data about the structure of natural stocks and the diversity of species is a major challenge.
Many of the Neotropical fish species are migratory. Some migrate long distances. Brycon hilarii and Prochilodus mariae are two examples. Migration occurs in the main river or tributaries.
Overfishing is a major threat to fish species. It is estimated that 54 species are threatened. Several of these species are important commercial fish.
A recent assessment of the freshwater biodiversity in the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot has been coordinated by the IUCN. It has been reported that 167 freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) have been identified in the region. Most of these areas are found outside the boundaries of other KBAs.
167 species of bird species
The Caribbean is a biodiversity hotspot and supports native flora and fauna of over 11,000 species. Yet, despite the abundance of endemic species, many bird populations continue to experience substantial population declines. Hence, the Caribbean is an ideal case study for avian extinctions.
One of the greatest challenges to conservation of these species is understanding their ecology. In particular, the vulnerability of forest-dependent endemics is a major concern. These birds serve as national icons and are important for providing ecosystem services. They also play an important role in ecotourism. However, the status of these species is not well-understood in the literature. This study aims to assess the current state of research on Caribbean forest-dependent endemic birds.
Research effort was evaluated using a review of the primary literature. In total, 167 species of bird were included in the analysis. Each species was assigned a threat status based on the IUCN Red List. Only species classified as endangered or threatened were considered.
A significant relationship between research effort and threat status was found for forest-dependent endemics. More research on these species was needed to assess their status and identify areas of research interest.
For other groups of birds, the relationship between research effort and threat status was less pronounced. Research effort was higher for threatened and near-threatened species. Some of this may be attributable to biogeography, individual research interests, and logistical and technological factors. Regardless, the authors recommend more research on underrepresented families and islands.
Caribbean endemic species comprise 82% of the region’s total native species. Many are confined to a single island, making them highly vulnerable to extinction.
Forest-dependent endemics are especially vulnerable to extinction. They are indicators of forest degradation and are important for providing ecosystem services. Although research on these species has grown in recent years, the number of published studies remains relatively low.
Phylogenetically diverse region
Phylogenetic diversity in mammalian species has been shown to be a valuable surrogate for biodiversity. It provides information about the history of diversifications and potential extinctions of species. In this study, we investigated spatial patterns of mammalian phylogenetic diversity in Mexico. We also examined the geographic distribution of mammalian species in protected and unprotected areas.
We used a hierarchical clustering analysis to examine the relationship between mammalian phylogenetic species and the distribution of protected and unprotected areas. The results showed that the highest phylogenetic diversity was found in the northwest of the country. There were no differences between standardized effect sizes of phylogenetic diversity between categories II, IV, and VI of protected areas.
The study reveals that mammalian phylogenetic distribution is highly congruent with the distribution of species in protected and unprotected areas. Protected areas have a higher proportion of total species. However, the number of species inside a protected area is more variable than outside. This could be explained by environmental heterogeneity.
We also found that the relationship between mammalian phylogenetic and functional diversity is not confined to rainforests. It is also evident when phylogenetic repulsion is considered. A phylogenetic repulsion occurs when closely related species are found in similar habitats. Thus, a protected area can help avoid connectivity between clusters and can promote connections between clusters.
Overall, our results suggest that mammalian phylogenetic patterns in Mexico may be useful as a surrogate for biodiversity. However, we must keep in mind that the region is characterized by a high degree of climatic variability. Also, we cannot fully explain the geographic diversity of mammalian species in protected and nonprotected regions without considering the effects of climate on dispersal.
Threats to amphibians
The Caribbean is home to many amphibians. While a number of species are endemic to the region, others are introduced. Many are endangered due to habitat loss or invasion by invasive species.
In addition to invasive species, there are many other environmental stresses that influence amphibian population declines. These include air-borne pollutants, pathogens, and changes in ambient temperature. Changes in precipitation, soil moisture, and water availability may also affect amphibians.
A comprehensive assessment of the extinction risk of a range of species has revealed a dramatic decrease in the number of animals and plants. Over 40.7% of all species are threatened. Most of these are mammals and birds, with a few reptiles and amphibians also at risk.
Climate change and other changes in large-scale climate processes are believed to have affected many species, including birds, mammals, and reptiles. There is little consensus on the extent of these effects. However, some areas of Central America are experiencing a significant shift in species distributions, while other areas are projected to experience combinations of these factors.
Several studies have investigated the effect of global climate change on amphibians. Some have mapped the distributions of more than 1,000 restricted-range species, while others have analyzed the impacts of global warming on BD. They have identified a complex relationship between climate change and amphibian declines, and proposed ways in which climate change could alter BD.
Among the more direct effects of climate change on amphibians are the potential changes in UV-B radiation reaching the earth’s surface. The potential impacts of increasing UV-B exposure will likely be difficult to predict.
Additionally, increases in temperature may have implications for post-metamorphic amphibians. Some species, like tadpoles, may be unable to maintain serum killing ability at high temperatures. Others, like frogs, may be susceptible to feminization at warm temperatures.
Climate change affects many species, including the marine organisms that live in the Caribbean Islands. While the impacts of climate change vary between islands, the effects can be felt by both animals and humans.
For example, a sea level rise of 50cm could disrupt beaches used by sea turtles for nesting. And in some areas, increasing ocean acidification will result in mass coral bleaching. The effects of sea level rise, as well as the impacts of other climate-related changes, are likely to have a significant effect on the ecosystems of the Caribbean.
These effects can range from direct impacts to the natural habitats, such as erosion, salinization, and coastal flooding, to indirect effects, such as increased sedimentation and energy costs for cooling. Depending on the magnitude of these changes, a number of plants and animals may become endangered or even extinct.
For example, there is evidence that the Mid-Holocene extinction of megafauna on Caribbean islands was caused by a combination of factors, including human exploitation, climate change, and habitat change. In addition, several faunal extinction events have been documented in both regions.
Climate change is also associated with an increase in cyclonic events, including hurricanes. Hurricanes have always posed a significant hazard to Caribbean settlements. But in recent years, the frequency and intensity of hurricanes have been increasing. This has led to a greater risk to life and property, as well as a variety of other hazards.
Many Caribbean communities are also vulnerable to freshwater shortages. Saltwater intrusion, along with salinization of groundwater, reduces the amount of freshwater stored in the ground. Additionally, an island-dependent cash crop economy has increased the vulnerability to droughts.