Hard as it may be to believe, the Aquadulcaris pheronyx, a species of freshwater crustacean belonging to the arthropod family of Paramelitidae, is listed as critically endangered before much - or anything - is known about it, and before it has even been assigned a vernacular name. Once again, a tiny creature is paying the price for man's expansion and lust for profit.
While there are obviously some scientists somewhere around the world who know about this creature and at least some of its biology, habits and so on - how else would it be known that the species is critically endangered - it does not appear as though any kind of detailed information is available anywhere.
The few known Facts
What is known that this species is endemic to caves, streams and rivers in the wetland areas of Constantiaberg, a South African mountain not far from Cape Town. Believed to look similar to other freshwater crustaceans, such as the EpimeraTuberculata (pictured as a drawing here), for instance, the Aquadulcaris pheronyx and many other species living within South African wetlands are threatened by increasing pollution.
The major Threats to the Species
This pollution, caused by increased human populations, agriculture and industries, is not helped a great deal by the gradual changes in climate the whole world is experiencing. Whole areas, if not polluted by human, agricultural or industrial waste, are drying up as dry seasons are getting longer and much needed rain fails to materialise.
It has been suggested that measures to manage water systems in order to reduce the amount of water bourne pollutants, such as heavy metals, biocides, acidic compounds and sediments, as well as salts and nutrients, is of utmost importance if these Eco-systems and their inhabitants are not to face total destruction and extinction.
The possible Effects of Extinction
It is a serious shame that it has not been possible to gather more information on this creature. It doubtlessly plays an important role within the Eco-system of its habitat, and losing it could have untold consequences. Without knowing more about this species, it is hard to predict what may happen if it should disappear forever.
Minute particles, plankton, algae or creatures (in short, whatever the Aquadulcaris pheronyx regards as its favourite diet) may begin to multiply at alarming rates, ultimately causing rivers and streams to be over--run with them. This in itself could become a serious threat to the habitat. At the same time, removing the Aquadulcaris pheronyx from the food chain may endanger another, predatory species for which the Aquadulcaris pheronyx was previously a main food source.
Like with any other species, the knock-on effect of losing the Aquadulcaris pheronyx as a species within the surrounding Eco-system can and will have a wide-spread impact that may go as far as affecting predatory mammals, birds and/ or reptiles living within the area. Ultimately, this will also affect the human population.
This situation needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, if not for the sake of these creatures, then for the sake of human children who have to rely on these polluted rivers for water supplies.