Snake populations showing decline worldwide

Snakes on the move
Snakes on the moveCourtesy limonada
Several species of snakes seem to be in decline according to a study published in the journal Biology Letters. The most abrupt change took place right around 1998 and scientists are stumped as to what happened at that particular time that could have caused such a worldwide drop in snake population. Some of you may be happy to hear this news since snakes aren’t very highly regarded by most humans. But the slithery reptiles are one of the top predators of their kind, and scientists fear a diminished population would no doubt upset the ecological balance.

Seventeen populations of snake comprised of eight different species were in the study, and in most cases it didn’t seem to matter where on Earth they were located.

"Two-thirds of the monitored populations collapsed, and none have shown any sign of recovery over nearly a decade since the crash,” the researchers reported. The most affected species were opportunistic foragers - the proverbial “snakes in the grass” that wait in hiding for unsuspecting prey to pass by. The more active hunters showed less of a decline. Only one “sit and wait” forager species bucked the trend – the tiger snake (Notechis scutatus) which lives on a small island off the coast of Australia, showed little change in its population over the period of study. The researchers think the isolation of its location could be a factor.

“It surprised us when we realized what we were looking at," said team leader Chris Reading of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Great Britain. Researchers from several other countries were also involved in the study, and although they haven’t pinpointed what was going on in 1998 to trigger such a decline –it could be environmental or climate related or disease, or something completely unknown at the moment. But since it affected snake populations around the globe they suggest that it’s probably from a single cause.

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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Pastor Kim's picture
Pastor Kim says:

I am feeling so sad. The earth is gushing from a wound in the Gulf of Mexico. I rarely see large numbers of birds anymore. It is an occasion to see a bee. The world declined (once again) to protect the whales from whaling by Japan, Norway and Iceland. Now I learn the snakes are disappearing. Our beautiful planet, our home, is dying. Wait, not just our home---if earth dies, we die too. God forgive us for what we have done.

posted on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 8:57pm

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