I receive this awesome publication called Conservation Magazine. Basically, they take all the best and more interesting conservation research articles and summarize them with nice editorials and gorgeous graphics. A lot of the articles they discuss relate to biodiversity surviving in the human world- just like this blog!
One recent article, called Into The Ditch, discussed how wetlands in the Netherlands are disappearing (as they are all over the world!), but that the wetland species are finding new “wet” areas to call home. The scientists decided to look in drainage ditches to see how much wetland biodiversity the ditches could hold. They ended up finding 75 species! Including wetland plants, snails, and fish! That is compared to 81 species in actual lakes. Pretty amazing, especially considering drainage ditches usually house pesticide run-off and other fun human chemicals. Why is there so much biodiversity if drainage ditches? Well, the ditches are well connected, like roadways, and they represent a sanctuary to wetland species that lost their original habitat.
This reminds me of a project I’m working on with Watsonville High School students in a Monterey Bay Aquarium program called WATCH, or Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats. My group, called The Endangered Strangers, is looking at Endangered Red Legged Frog habitat in Elkhorn Slough. We know that the frogs only lay eggs in the main pond but spend lots of time in the so-called “guzzlers”. Guzzlers are artificial structures added to the Slough as wildlife drinking stations- like little ponds with a constant water source. They now serve as an important part of the Reg Legged Frog’s habitat. My group and I are trying to determine why the frogs only lay eggs in the pond by investigating what habitat factors are found in the pond vs. the guzzlers.
While it is, of course, top priority to CONSERVE the original habitat, because, after all, not ALL species can adapt to human structures, it is cool to see that some of our human constructs can serve secondary roles as important habitat for other species.