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Wetlands point to extinction problems beyond climate change

Wetlands point to extinction problems beyond climate change

It's not just climate change that's driving extinctions: Wetland mismanagement is endangering 40,000 small but vital plant and animal species, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

A recent study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) cited by the center found that 16 percent of all dragon- and damselfly species, among many others, are at risk of extinction from factors including pesticide misuse and sewage discharge.

Wetland ecosystems around the world “are disappearing three times faster than forests,” Bruno Oberle, IUCN director general, said in a statement.

“Marshes and other wetlands may seem unproductive and inhospitable to humans, but in fact they provide us with essential services. They store carbon, give us clean water and food, protect us from floods, as well as offer habitats for one in ten of the world's known species," Oberle said.

Across the United States, 85 percent of wetlands have already been destroyed by “careless planning” that has led to the extinction of species including Bachmann’s warbler and the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Wetland species face a thousandfold risk of extinction compared to others, the CBD says.

Few of the species in question are household names, but many serve as key foundations in local ecosystems, with their absence risking broader collapses.

Populations of rabbitsfoot mussel a native of the Great Lakes and the Ohio River drainage basin, which has been reduced to about half its former range, are in danger from a planned increase in sewage discharge into creeks outside Columbus, according to the CBD.

And a new dam planned for the Little Canoe Creek in Alabama risks wiping out the Canoe Creek clubshell, an endangered mollusk that depends on clean, pollutant- and silt-free water for survival, the CBD says.




It's not just climate change that's driving extinctions: Wetland mismanagement is endangering 40,000 small but vital plant and animal species, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).
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