Currently, upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) and habitat loss are the main contributors to a decline in gopher and desert tortoise populations. And since these reptiles are keystone species—that is, the habitats they create are home to more than 300 other species—their population decline significantly affects the ecosystem. According to a recent study in Ecology, sexually-mature male tortoises were at the greatest risk of carrying and spreading URTD due in large part to their social behavior.

Source: EcoTone

More on ecology:

  1. How a polluted environment can lead to illness
  2. From the Community: Artificial butterflies, bug-eating sea slugs and bum-shaking tree frogs
  3. When habitat destruction is extremely subtle
  4. Report Hails Classification of 18,225 New Live Species, 2,140 Fossil Species — and a Cool Top 10 List
  5. From the Community: Ecology in uncommon roles