Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Extraordinary Number of unique species discovered in Caribbean

12.08.2003


Hundreds of species with small ranges seen vulnerable



The Caribbean Sea has the greatest concentration of marine life in the entire Atlantic and is home to hundreds of species that live only in precariously small areas, making life there far richer and more delicate than previously thought, according to a new study.

An analysis of the ranges of 1,172 marine species revealed that some 253, or 22 percent, are endemic to the Caribbean region, meaning they are found nowhere else. Of those, at least 100 species are considered "micro-endemics," meaning they have ranges restricted to small geographical features, like isolated island platforms or coastal lagoons.


"Most people believe that marine species have large ranges and can just swim their way out of trouble," said Michael L. Smith, Caribbean biodiversity fellow with the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International (CI). "But we now know that there are hundreds of species along the coast of Central America and in the broader Caribbean region with ranges so small that even localized human activities can cause their extinction."

Toadfishes, silversides and the dwarf lantern shark – the world’s smallest shark, reaching only 21 centimeters – are among the unique micro-endemic species that are highly susceptible to human activity in the Caribbean. Destructive fishing practices, the dredging of harbors and estuaries, and the laying of seafloor pipelines, are just some of the threats these species face as development in the region reaches even the most remote islands and keys.

"Anyone who remembers the building of an airstrip that eliminated a dozen of Bermuda’s marine species in the 1940s knows that humans can easily wipe out large numbers of creatures in a single careless act," said Kent Carpenter, professor at Old Dominion University. "We have found species in all parts of the Caribbean region with very tiny ranges. They can be put at risk by the kinds of local development that are occurring every day on every coast in the region."

Eighty-four scientists from around the globe mapped the ranges of species throughout the Atlantic. Scientists from CABS at CI and Old Dominion University analyzed the data to find concentrations of endemic species and other patterns of distribution. In the process they also compiled the largest database of species ranges ever recorded for the region.

The study found the two single sites in the Caribbean richest in species and endemism are the Florida Straits, bordered by Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida; and a stretch in the southern Caribbean that follows the coastlines of Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

Scientists were also surprised to find that many unique species live at depths far greater than previously imagined, making them vulnerable to deepwater trawlers and other fishing activities. The depredation caused by fishing, combined with low reproductive rates common among micro-endemics at those depths, make many species vulnerable to sudden population collapse.

The current study is the latest installment in a series published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that provides scientific guides about marine biodiversity in several areas of the ocean. It is being released in a three-volume series entitled, The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Atlantic.


###
The Center For Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) based at Conservation International, strengthens the ability of CI and other institutions to accurately identify and quickly respond to emerging threats to Earth’s biological diversity. CABS brings together leading experts in science and technology to collect and interpret data about biodiversity, to develop strategic plans for conservation and to forge key partnerships in all sectors toward conservation goals. Read more about CABS at http://www.biodiversityscience.org.

Conservation International (CI) is an environmental organization working in more than 30 countries around the globe to protect biodiversity and to demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. CI develops scientific, policy and economic solutions to protect threatened natural ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity. Read more about CI at http://www.conservation.org.

Brad Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.conservation.org/
http://www.biodiversityscience.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Loss of habitat causes double damage to species richness
02.04.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Deep decarbonization of industry is possible with innovations
25.03.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>