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More than 40 percent of Madagascar’s freshwater life sliding toward extinction, IUCN finds

22 / 03 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

Madagascar is known as an ark for biodiversity that’s found nowhere else on the planet. Unfortunately, it’s also known for the bevy of threats that those distinctive species that live in its rainforests, woodlands and wetlands face. Now, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that many of the plants and animals living in the island’s freshwater habitats, as well as those of other southern Indian Ocean islands, are also being pushed closer to extinction. A team of biologists compared known data on 653 freshwater species, ranging from fish and crabs to dragonflies and aquatic plants, and they found that 43 percent were either threatened with extinction or else scientists didn’t have enough information to assess how well they were doing. That’s more than double the proportion of threatened freshwater species on the African continent, according to a 2011 IUCN biodiversity survey. A rice paddy in Madagascar. The authors of the report pointed to unsustainable agricultural practices as a primary driver of species declines. Photo by Mike Averill, courtesy of IUCN. More than 150 dragonfly species that the scientists looked at are endemic to Madagascar, meaning they’re found nowhere else in the world. Other endemics include a genus of freshwater snails that bear live young. Two of the species, Madagasikara madagascariensis and Madagasikara johnsoni, are classified as endangered. The authors identified unsustainable farming — which they write includes the traditional slash-and-burn technique used by subsistence farmers around the world — as the most serious threat, particularly when it involves…

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