Reptile Conservation – Educating People, Protecting Habitat and Solving Problems That Threaten Herpetofauna

Reptiles are remarkable animals with extraordinary adaptations that have helped them survive millennia of natural and human-induced threats. While efforts to protect other tetrapods (birds, mammals and amphibians) will likely benefit many of the 1,829 reptile species currently considered threatened, conservation investments that are specifically 크레스티드게코분양 targeted at herpetofauna are urgently needed.

Habitat Protection

The most basic action that can be taken to conserve reptiles is to protect the habitat they use. This is the only way to ensure that a species’ population will be able to persist, regardless of other threats.

In many areas, preventing habitat loss and fragmentation, managing for the presence of native plants, and managing human disturbance are key to supporting reptiles and amphibians. Specifically, controlling invasive vegetation (e.g., meadow shrubs and trees), avoiding excessive shading, and allowing riparian buffers to retain near-water refugia are important management actions.

Protecting a reptile’s habitat must include the entire regional landscape, not just the individual site where the species occurs. Many reptiles form metapopulations that are as dynamic and important in their own right as local populations, and conservation strategies must take this into account.

In addition, since numerous threatened tetrapod species (227 birds, 194 mammals and 607 amphibians) range entirely outside of protected areas, their habitats must be safeguarded. These place-based efforts should be complemented by policy and practices that halt unsustainable harvest, stem the spread of invasive species, and address other drivers of extinction risk.

Education

Reptile conservation must involve education in a variety of settings, from schools and parks to veterinary offices and birthday parties. The educational programs must be geared to the audience and focus on captive care and natural history of the animals, handling and restraint techniques as well as animal welfare issues. The programs should also include information about the specific species, its habitat in the wild or in captivity and its role in the food chain of the ecosystem.

Educators are often able to use the opportunity of interacting with reptiles in an educational setting to help people overcome their fears and learn about the roles that reptiles play as predators and part of the nutrient cycle. It is important to remember that research has shown that people who see or touch a reptile may develop more positive attitudes than those who just look at the same animals in books or on television.

Educators may also provide information on the threats to reptiles, such as illegal hunting, trafficking, habitat destruction and pollution. Often, campaigns are devised to educate people about the threats and encourage them to obey laws and report infringements. Educators may also work to promote better breeding practices and provide public service announcements about reptiles.

Research

Unlike birds, mammals and amphibians, few reptiles have comprehensive global extinction-risk assessments1. This has made them invisible to conservation-prioritization analyses that consider other tetrapods2. But now we know that reptiles are at risk as much as birds, mammals and amphibians, with 1,829 species threatened worldwide3.

The threats that lead to reptile declines are similar to those that threaten other tetrapods, with the exception of climate change. For example, habitat destruction due to agriculture and urban development affects reptiles as much as it does birds and mammals. Hunting and invasive species are also common concerns, especially for crocodiles, turtles and squamates.

But despite the commonality of threats, we are only beginning to understand how the specific threats impact individual reptiles and how those impacts interact. For example, we don’t fully understand why the population of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks is declining.

The research that does exist, however, suggests that efforts to conserve threatened mammals, birds and amphibians are likely to benefit many of the same reptiles. That’s because conservation activities that reduce the threat of hunting or logging will also reduce the threat to many forest-dwelling reptiles. Efforts to control disease, such as the snake fungal pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, will also probably help more reptiles than would be expected.

Funding

Across the country and around the world people are working to save reptiles. They’re raising awareness, protecting habitat, educating people and doing research to solve the problems that threaten herpetofauna. These conservation efforts need your support.

Herpetological research can help us understand the complex interplay between the environment and herpetofauna. It also allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation actions. That’s why the ARC is supporting a new program to help researchers find the most effective ways to conserve amphibians and reptiles.

We need you to support ARC and our mission to ensure that the next generation can experience the thrill of holding a bog turtle in their hand or hearing a chorus of frogs sing in the night. Please consider a donation today. Your contribution will have a profound effect on preserving these habitats and species.

Amphibians are nature’s environmental indicators. Their permeable skin absorbs many of the chemicals that contaminate their surroundings, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of human activity on wild habitats. As a result, nearly one third of the 6,644 species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians are endangered and many are thought to be extinct. ARC and our conservation partners are working to address these threats by improving salamander habitats on private land through a new stewardship grant program. This will include establishing and maintaining riparian forest buffers, increasing the amount of woody debris on the landscape and changing livestock grazing practices.