TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Today, details from a national survey indicating the United States has twice as many plants and animal species as previously thought was announced in Washington. As many as one-third of the species are said to be in peril.
Dr. Charles Lydeard, an associate professor of biological sciences at The University of Alabama, said Alabama leads the nation in some biological species, but says the state also has its share of species in trouble.
“Alabama has more freshwater fishes, turtles, mussels and freshwater snails than any other state in the U.S.,” said Lydeard. Overall, Alabama ranks third nationally in the diversity of biological species.
The bad news is that the state has already lost some species and is in danger of losing others.
“Probably more species of freshwater snails have gone extinct in Alabama than anywhere in the U.S.,” Lydeard said. “If animals like snails and clams can go extinct, it’s an indication there could be a major problem with the way we’re taking care of our resources,” he said. Losing species from the state’s freshwater streams could be an early warning sign that the state’s drinking water supply could face problems in the future, he said. “Now is the time to act and act aggressively.
“There is a growing understanding by Alabamians of the need to protect the natural resources in our state. The times are changing in this state. People are getting excited about our resources,” he said.
As an example, Lydeard cited The Nature Conservancy for giving $1 million to the Alabama Forever Wild Land trust. It enabled the state to purchase 47,416 acres in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta to protect natural resources, he said.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.