Declines in Europe and Africa raise worries of widespread slide
The world might be facing a new kind of sssilent ssspring if researchers are correct that snake numbers are declining.
Out of 17 snake populations monitored over many years in Europe and Africa, 11 populations plummeted about 10 years ago and have not bounced back, says herpetologist Chris Reading of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology near Oxford, England. Just what caused the declines between 1998 and 2002 is not yet clear, but Reading and nine other biologists sound an alarm in a Biology Letters paper released the week of June 7.
Losing a lot of snakes can upset the way ecosystems work, Reading says. Snakes o