Why the Conservation of Reptiles and Amphibians Is Important | Teen Ink

Why the Conservation of Reptiles and Amphibians Is Important

November 24, 2018
By Scorpio SILVER, Marietta, Georgia
Scorpio SILVER, Marietta, Georgia
5 articles 1 photo 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
In the end, we will only conserve what we love, we will only love what we understand, we will only understand what we are taught.
-Baba Dioum

Reptiles and amphibians are animals that most people don't like. They see them as these creepy, slimy, dangerous monsters that can easily and gladly kill you. The only animals in these categories that are shown as otherwise are turtles and tortoises. What most people don't know is that these animals, nicknamed herps by professionals, are incredibly important to their environments. In this paper, I will be going over first amphibians, then reptiles, talking about their roles in the environment and what we can do to help them.

First off is the amphibians. There are 4 different types of amphibians, 5 if you count newts as a separate group as some peoples do. Those groups are frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians. All amphibians are what scientist call bioindicators. This means that if there is something wrong with the environment, the first things to show it is the amphibians. What makes them good bioindicators is the fact that they spend a lot of time in the water, and have skin that is very sensitive to chemical changes. Since many species of amphibian actually more or less breath through their skin, they require clean water to keep them healthy. Once the water goes bad, they start dying off. Most healthy ecosystems have a good population of amphibians. Amphibians are also important because they are an important food source for many species of fish, birds, reptiles, and even other amphibians. 

Next up is the reptiles. There are 5 types of reptiles. Those types are crocodilians, tuataras, lizards, snakes, and turtles. If you are wondering why I did not include tortoises as a separate type, the easiest way to explain it is that all tortoises are turtles but not all turtles are tortoises. Different types of reptiles are important in their ecosystems for different reasons, but one that they all share is that they act as both predator and prey. For crocodilians, they start out as prey, but within 10 years they are considered predators and in many ecosystems, they are considered apex predators. Most other species of reptile start as prey and end as sort of a mid-tier predator. Species like turtles also help with the nitrogen cycle. In experiments in labs where they have a turtle in a miniature ecosystem and then remove it, the plant life suffers considerably. 

Now, what can you do to help with reptile and amphibian conservation? One quick and easy thing to do is to donate to nonprofits that are devoted to saving these amazing animals, like the Turtle Survival Alliance. You can also donate to local AZA-accredited zoos since many of them have some sort of reptile or amphibian related project that they run. If you really what to get into reptile and amphibian conservation, you can volunteer at local zoos, aquariums, and nature centers. Most of them have volunteer programs for all ages. If you do volunteer you can help to educate people about the many amazing species of reptiles and amphibians on this planet, since the first step to conservation is education. Another thing that you can do is to tell your friends about conservations in general and urge them to help save the species of animals that we need to help. So get out there and start saving species! 

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