Is ‘America’s Amazon’ in jeopardy?

Mobile Bay at sunset. Credit: mmblawyer

The Mobile River Basin is the largest inland delta system in the United States and is among the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, but it’s facing an array of threats it hasn’t seen before.

“This is America’s Amazon, far and away the most biodiverse river network in North America,” writes author Ben Raines, “far and away the most biodiverse river network in North America.”

Thanks to this region, Alabama is home to more species of freshwater fish, mussels, snails, turtles and crawfish than any other state, Raines writes, and more turtle species than any other river delta system in the world. But while its ecosystems have remained largely intact, that may be changing.

“Habitat destruction, development and lax enforcement of environmental regulations conspire to take an increasing toll, making the area a global hot spot for extinctions, particularly of aquatic creatures,” Raines writes in the Los Angeles Times.

These threats come as the scientific community is just beginning to realize the region’s richness. “Subdivisions and cities are spreading quickly across acreage long devoted to timber, agriculture or kudzu,” Raines writes. “With that growth comes the likelihood of accelerated destruction for what scientists have only begun to realize is one of the most diverse ecological areas outside of the Amazonian rain forests.”

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.