More than 60 percent of turtles were on the verge of extinction
American biologists have estimated that approximately 61 percent, or 217 of 356 species of turtles on Earth are threatened with extinction or already extinct, and their disappearance will have large implications for ecosystems that require further study. A review article on this was published in the journal Bioscience.
The authors summarized the research data of the ecological situation in the regions inhabited by the various species of turtles and its impact on population to give a complete picture of the threat of extinction for the animals of this group. “Turtle affect the health of various ecosystems, including deserts, wetlands, freshwater and marine environments. Their decline could have negative consequences for other species, including man, is not obvious at first glance,” said the study’s lead author Jeffrey łowicz (Jeffrey Lovich) of the U.S. Geological survey.
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It turned out that turtles that exist on Earth for over 200 million years — one of the most vulnerable groups of animals: 61% of all species of turtles in different measure at risk of extinction. The authors of the study stress that global efforts to protect biodiversity often do not prioritising habitats of turtles. The main threats to animals, the scientists say habitat destruction, fishing for food and for sale as exotic diseases, and climate change (many species of turtles the sex of a baby is determined by the ambient temperature and climate affects the ratio of males and females).
Some types of turtles, for example, rafetus Pile (Rafetus swinhoei) have already disappeared from the wild from four animals contained in the zoo, there was only one female who in the last eight years had not laid viable eggs. Scientists remind us that the extinction of turtles happens all the time: together with Lonesome George, the famous tortoise who died in 2012, gone the form of a giant turtle Islands of Pinta (Head abingdonii).
The fate of turtles are particularly tragic, given their evolutionary success. They endured all that was put before them in nature, both on the Ground and from space — the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, but will survive if they meet the modern people?
In ecosystems, the turtles, depending on the diet they are herbivores, carnivores and omnivores play an important role in the food chain and also act as a source of food for those who feed the turtle eggs or eat the animals, as for many species, the biomass of turtles in a particular area can be very high. In addition, turtles carry the seeds of dozens of plant species and their cover in the land use insects, snakes, other reptiles, and even foxes and hares. Overall, the authors stress that more needed to explore the direct and indirect effects of extinction of turtles.
At the end of 2016, a group of scientists from China and the United States showed that the size of most modern populations of endangered vertebrates began to decline sharply in the late XIX century and since then reduced by 25 per cent every 10 years. The average size of populations of endangered species is now only 5 percent of the size of the ancestral population.