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Freshwater crab numbers fall dramatically

by Alan Harten
August 1, 2009

Crabs play an important role in the aquatic ecosystem by aiding the recycling of plant and animal remains, but this may shift some due to the fact that about a sixth of the global crab population is on the threatened with extinction list.

The loss of the crabs would lead to a breakdown in the water nutrient cycle leading to knock-down effects on animal populations, water quality, and human environments.

This is due to the fact that not only are crabs food for fish and other animals, they are also the main catch for smaller fisheries in the tropics and are the primary source of protein for those who live locally in these regions.

Dr. Ben Colleen of the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) who finished a recent study on the disappearance of the crab populations said that the reduction in the amount of freshwater crabs currently in the world’s seas will eventually begin to interfere with human’s lifestyles and nutrients. He went on to say that goals need to be set and met to better preserve the smaller parts of nature that seem insignificant but have huge benefits such as climate regulation and nutrient cycling.

Dr. Neil Cumerlidge of Northern Michigan University in the United States seconded the thought of Collen stating that the loss of crabs in Kenya have already led to a decrease in the otter population and additional losses of crabs could lead to a sharp decrease in other predators such as catfish, herons, snakes, and mongooses.

Officially the crabs are considered now to be on the Red List of Threatened Species released by the ICUN. The study results for the ICUN were distributed to 122 countries where crabs currently reside.
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