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 Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>