WHAT IS FAUNA?

Aug. 29, 2020, 9:31 p.m.

Fauna is the name given to the collection of animal species present in a specific time and place. A place’s fauna can change based on the influence of evolutive processes, local environmental characteristics (i.e.: climate, relief, vegetation), physiological and adaptational characteristics of each species.

The world is home for several species of animals that are found in specific ambients and that over thousands of years developed their specific characteristics. for their survival based on their habitat As an example, we can find kangaroo, platypus and the Tasmanian devil only in the Australian region. While in Africa we can find lions, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, and rhinos. On Central and South-America we find jaguars, giant anteaters and various species of amphibians that are only present in that continent. Each day new species are discovered.

Brazil stands out in relation to other countries because it is considered the country with the most animal species. There are over than 129.000 invertebrate and vertebrate animal species. These species go through different adaptations to be able to survive in the Amazon biome, Cerrado, Caatinga, Pantanal, Atlantic Forest, Pantanal, and Pampas.

Currently, lots of threats to the integrity of the natural ecosystems, fauna and biodiversity exist. According to the Chico Mendes Institute of Biodiversity (ICMBio), roughly 1.173 species are listed as endangered in Brazil, which means that they are at the risk of disappearing.

The main threats are related to the growth of the human population and the development of new technologies that lead to the increase of the exploration of natural resources.

Among the main threats to our fauna, we can highlight:

  • Degradation of natural environments: That’s the main motive for the loss of biodiversity in the world. The physical degradation of habitats occurs mainly because of activities such as urban and industrial expansions; a large volume of livestock; fragmentation of the native vegetation; changes in rivers; sliting; erosion; pollutant gas emission. All of these activities can affect the fauna and lead to the decrease of populations, inbalance in the trophic chain and the dynamic of communities, migration of species and even extinction.
  • Run overs: Running over animals that are trying to cross highways is one of the most significant impacts on fauna. According to the Brazilian Center for Studies in Road Ecology (CBEF), more than 15 animals die on Brazilian roads each second. Daily, more than 1.3 million animals and at the end of the year, more than 475 million wild animals are run over in Brazil.
  • Predatory hunting: Hunting wild animals is prohibited in Brazil, but its illegal practice keeps reducing the number of species. A great part of the hunted animals is killed for the clandestine market of leather or fur. Among the most hunted species, we can highlight mammals such as the jaguar, reptilians like the alligator, and birds such as the blue arara.
  • Fires: A common practice in pasture management, not only it hurts the environment it also causes the death of several fauna individuals, mainly the ones with low mobility. Even after the fire is controlled, the affected environments can take some time to recover, which directly impacts the composition of the local fauna.
  • Introduction of Exotic Species: Animals introduced outside is natural distribution area threatens ecosystems, habitats or other species. They are considered the second highest cause for loss of biodiversity on the planet, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These animals are introduced mainly by accident (i.e.: golden mussel, native from Asia), or for the food market (i.e.: bullfrog and giant snail, natives from Africa; boar, native from Europe), or as pets (i.e.: red-eared turtle, native from North America). They end up competing with the native fauna for resources and space, and they can even cause the extinction of local species.
  • Climate change: Sometimes in not possible for some species to adapt quickly enough to the climate changes at the speed it is happening at their natural habitat. The increase in temperature, mainly as a result of the emission of pollutant gas on the atmosphere, causes changes in animal behaviour, for instance, changes in the lifecycle, breeding periods, the anticipation of the end of hibernation, and the migration seeking more favorable environments.

Fauna, as well as all biodiversity, has an intrinsic value. However, this recognition alone not always lead to the economic evaluation that political decisions usually generally based on. A utilitarian vision of nature exists and is focused on the service that it can provide to people. Therefore, one of the current main challenges-is the political alignment of public policies and economic development, keeping in mind alternatives that can prioritize the preservation of natural environments that guarantees the maintenance of ecosystems and the survival of species.