“The advanced biodiversity crisis masked,” said Francis Duranthon, director of the Toulouse natural history museum
Francis Duranthon, director of the Toulouse natural history museum, gives a gloomy report on biodiversity in Haute-Garonne. Faced with the announced disappearance of certain species, “everyone has a role to play”.
For about 100 years the number of species living on Earth has decreased by at least 20%. What about in the department?
There are a number of species in the region which have disappeared or are threatened, the Pyrenean ibex for example. There is a drastic erosion of the workforce, which is very worrying. The species have not disappeared but are much less frequent, it is obvious with regard to the birds, and in particular the populations of swallows and sparrows. There is much less impact of insects on windshields than thirty years ago, as these populations have collapsed, so do insectivores. Everything is connected.
On the other hand, do some species adapt very well to climate change?
Some take the place of our hardy species and develop significantly. Buddleia for example, butterfly trees, are invasive. In some lakes, there are a mess of California turtles as people release them. They make the turtle disappear from our country: the European Pond Turtle.
Amphibians are particularly threatened?
Newts and salamanders are extremely endangered. Chemical inputs used in agriculture enter their skin. Amphibians continue to have a very important role, they eat a lot of mosquitoes while we have tiger mosquitoes which proliferate. As they begin to notice a slowdown in their proliferation, species begin to find strategies. Ecosystems are an unstable equilibrium system.
What impact can the erosion of biodiversity have on humans?
In the immediate future, in the Toulouse region, it will not be dramatic. In the long term, Man will disappear. What we are starting to see is that the periods of drought and heat waves are more important. We do not realize that biodiversity is eroding because we do not see thousands of dead creatures in front of our door. It is a crisis which advances masked.
Solutions to implement in the face of this sad observation?
On one all of the responsibilities. For example, we can favor local species such as willows and hazelnuts rather than thuja. The cigarette butt that is thrown on the ground will go into the waterways and kill the amphibians. On these issues, we should not expect everything from the public authorities. Do you need to have your entire garden mowed? Leaving grasses means that there will be insects and therefore birds. If I wanted to be provocative, I would also say that we should stop harboring killers at home, they destroy 120 million birds every year. Our cute little cats are serial killers!