The Disturbing Disappearance Of Turtles
Turtles may well seem like nature’s equivalent of Steady Eddie, unfortunately their populations are falling precipitously and that is bad news for the planet. The latest research is dire and suggests 61 per cent of the 356 different subspecies of turtle are either threatened or already extinct. A team of scientists from a variety of institutions published the study which reveals that amongst the major vertebrates, turtles are one of the most threatened species and the authors say this could have massive implications on the ecological landscape.
Turtles make huge contributions to ecosystems
Jeffery Lovich, lead scientist on the study says turtles make
important contributions to the health of many ecosystems ranging from desert,
freshwater, marine and wetlands. The decline in their numbers may have negative
consequences for other species including humans that may not be immediately
obvious. Turtles are positively prehistoric, dating back to the age of the dinosaur,
millions of years ago. Unfortunately, habitat destruction, climate change and
other factors have resulted in dramatic population declines.
Turtles play an important role in the food chain
The purpose of this study is to let people know how important a
role turtles play in ecology. Perhaps their most important attribute is how
diverse they are when it comes to food. Turtles can be herbivores, omnivores or
carnivores. The diversity in food spectrum means they have a significant impact
on the food chain in habitats globally. In some parts of the world, the sheer
turtle population density makes them a vital part of the ecosystem. Because
other species feed on them and their eggs, the species itself is an important
food source for others.
Turtles distribute plant seeds
Turtles also help distribute the seeds of plants that they consume
because the seeds are not destroyed by their digestive process and instead are
dispersed upon excretion. In fact, some seeds tend to germinate better after
having undergone through the process of attempted digestion. Some plant species
almost entirely depend on turtles for the dispersal of their seeds so their
extinction would also result in the extinction of these flora as well.
Other species piggyback of turtles
Most people are aware that turtles carry around their homes on
their back, but apparently the habitats they create make better homes for other
creatures. The burrows dug by turtles are used by a variety of other species ranging
from bobcats to snakes. Some species of plant also tend to sprout from the entrances
of these burrows. These are just some of the critical role’s turtles play in
the ecology and it is concerning that so many species are in decline or in danger
of extinction. Hopefully there will be a more concerted effort for conservation
so they remain part of our natural habitats.