Why does it matter that a snail died in Hawaii?

Credit: Braden Jarvis/Unsplash

The story of George the snail

Achatinella mustelina, a native snail species of Hawaii (not George.)

The impact of invasive species on biodiversity

As previously mentioned, Hawaii’s native species thrived due to a lack of predators on their isolated islands. Before human travel to the islands became the norm, it’s estimated that a new species would reach the islands by air or by sea only every 100,000 years, but this increased massively — both through the accidental introduction of species arriving with humans on their boats, and through the deliberate introduction of some species. Hawaii doesn’t have any native land mammals, but when Polynesians settled there they brought pigs, goats, deer and dogs as domesticated livestock and as offerings to Hawaiian royalty (‘Goats and European hogs were brought in 1778, sheep in 1791 and cattle in 1793 — Hobdy, 1993.) These became destructive through their intensive grazing habits, damaging soil cover and eating native plants.

Euglandina rosea or ‘wolfsnail’

The impact of climate change on biodiversity

Human-caused climate change is the other reason for an acceleration in biodiversity loss in Hawaii. Rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, and flooding are all changes to the climate that native species are being forced to adapt to, with varying degrees of success. Mosquitoes, for instance are thriving due to the higher temperatures, but in turn they threaten many of Hawaii’s native birds through carrying diseases such as avian malaria.

Why does it matter: what’s the importance of biodiversity?

Ramblings on communication and our climate crisis🌱

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