World Snake Population Decline Could Have Serious Consequences to Ecosystems

June 15th, 2010 - 8:32 pm ICT by Angela Kaye Mason  

snakes3 June 15 (THAINDIAN NEWS) A study which was recently released by the British Royal Society has shown an ‘alarming’ decline in the world’s population of snakes, which could lead to serious issues for many ecosystems, since snakes are top predators of many animals, and as so help prevent the overpopulation of many rodents and small animals, as well as other snakes.

According to a study which was conducted by Chris Reading and the Center of Ecology and Hydrology between 1987 and 2009, there was significant decline in the population of eight of the eleven species which was studied.

The research was done in France, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and seventeen different populations of the eleven species were watched. According to Chris Reading, “This is the first documented evidence from anywhere in the world that snake populations may be declining.”

Since the study included snakes from every type of habitat, including protected lands, the researchers have ruled out the possibility that habitat destruction, disease, or micro-environmental conditions had anything to do with the decline.

The worst effected were the ‘burrowers’ who hide and wait for the prey to appear. This led them to speculate that perhaps a change in the actions of prey may have contributed to the decline in snake population.

The decline was said to be occurring at an alarming rate, and the scientists are urging other researchers to begin studies on the subject. “Our data revealed an alarming trend. Two-thirds of the monitored populations collapsed, and none have shown any sign of recovery over nearly a decade since the crash. Unfortunately, there is no reason to expect a reversal of this trend. We suggest that there is likely to be a common cause at the root of the declines, and that this indicates a more widespread phenomenon.”

This decline is cause for growing concerns among researchers and ecologists. Since snakes are top predators in their ecosystems, the sharp decline and possible extinction of these reptiles could lead to serious over populations of other reptiles, rodents, other snakes, and pretty much any creature which is eaten by these 11 species of snakes.

Heavy rains in some areas have fostered a large number of rodents, and small animals whose populations are usually kept at bay by these reptiles. With the decline in the number of snakes, these animals could begin to show a huge incline in their population. Because of the possible devastating effect this could have on the ecosystems, ecologists are urged to conduct their own series of investigations, and perhaps discover the cause of this phenomenon.

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