Where Do Axolotls Live Why Are Axolotls Endangered

Where Do Axolotls Live | Why Are Axolotls Endangered – Amazing Facts

Where Do Axolotls Live?

A giant salamander was discovered dwelling in the lake that surrounded the island where the Aztecs erected their city, Tenochtitl├ín, when they first came to what is now known as the Valley of Mexico around Mexico City in the 13th century. Xolotl, the god of fire and lightning, inspired the name “axolotl” for the salamander.

Axolotls, which are sometimes mistaken for fish because of their appearance, are the only members of the amphibian family that live their whole lives in water. As a result of their look and the place of their habitat, axolotls are frequently referred to as “Mexican walking fish.”

Axolotls, a salamander species, have a very complex genetic makeup. A condition is known as “neoteny” causes them to retain most of their larval features until adulthood, including a tall, quill-like dorsal fin and a feathery gill cover.

Carnivores and axolotls eat a variety of worms, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and even some tiny fish to stay healthy. Up until the last few decades, they were at the top of the food chain in their natural habitat. However, invasive species like perch and tilapia now pose a threat to them and have caused their numbers to drop.


Know More About Axolotls:

Where Do Axolotls Live?

As previously hinted, axolotls can only be found in Mexico, specifically in the Xochimilco lake complex near Mexico City, including Lake Xochimilco and a network of man-made canals and waterways crisscrossing the Mexican city. 

Axolotls have been an integral part of Mexican culture for many millennia. According to local belief, an Aztec god disguised himself as a salamander to evade sacrifice. 

One of the five “big lakes” of Mexico City, Lake Chalco, was also formerly home to axolotls. However, NBC News said that by the 1970s, all of these lakes except for Xochimilco had been drained to prevent flooding and allow cities to grow.

Because axolotls are neotenic, they have adapted well to their natural environment, a high-altitude location with an average water temperature of roughly 20┬░C, even in the winter.

How Do Axolotls Differ From Other Salamander Species?

How Do Axolotls Differ From Other Salamander Species

It’s hard to realize that axolotls belong to the same amphibian family as their salamander cousins. 

Axolotls are the only amphibians that do not undergo metamorphosis until they are adults. Adults remain underwater and gilled rather than moving to the land.

Let’s have a look at what distinguishes axolotls from other salamander species:

First: Axolotls can grow enormous, dwarfing most other salamanders and even certain land animals.

Second: They live in a high-altitude body of water because they are neotenic. Except for axolotls, no other salamanders are known to do this.

Third: Unlike most other salamander species, axolotls spend their entire lives in water. Some animals have been known to travel onto land once they reach adulthood, but they spend most of their lives below the water, breathing through their gills.

Why Are Axolotls Endangered

Despite the abundance of these species in the aquarium trade, they are critically endangered in the wild. Habitat degradation has taken a heavy toll on these charismatic creatures, leaving them with only a tiny portion of their historic range remaining.

As a result of human development, wastewater discharge, and droughts, Axolotl populations have declined.

According to the IUCN’s conservation index, axolotls are classified as critically endangered, indicating that their population is rapidly dwindling and facing an imminent threat of extinction. Axolotls are a wild species, but there are now more of them in captivity than in nature.

According to research by Mexican ecologist Luis Zambrano, there were an estimated 6,000 axolotls per square kilometer in the Xochimilco lake complex in 1998, but now the number is only 35!

More than one factor is to blame for axolotl population declines in recent years, and they’ve been significant. 

Why Are Axolotls Endangered

Climate Change:

They will continue to lose their native habitats due to climate change, which will lead to further droughts. Dry weather has already destroyed one of its native habitats, Lake Texaco, which is now smack dab in the midst of Mexico City and engulfed in buildings. With climate change, Lake Xochimilco, the last remaining habitat for the axolotl, may not be around for long.

Loss Of Habitat:

Large swaths of the Xochimilco lake complex have been drained and destroyed due to Mexico City’s fast growth, including Lake Chalco, one of the axolotl’s primary historic habitats.

Water Pollution:

The fast growth of Mexico City has resulted in a significant increase in water contamination inside the Xochimilco network, rendering some regions uninhabitable for aquatic life. As a result, axolotl reproduction was drastically reduced.

Invasive Species:

Although the axolotl was once the dominant predator in Xochimilco, invasive species have subsequently been introduced into the axolotl’s natural environment. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization introduced tilapia and carp fish to the salamanders’ habitat in the 1970s and 1980s to give local residents more protein. Those fish eat juvenile axolotls and pose a serious threat to salamanders.

Overfishing:

Axolotls have become somewhat of a delicacy in Mexico City, making local fishermen want them a lot more. Until recently, they were an essential source of protein for Mexicans. People’s desire for fried salamander and other fish has unfortunately significantly contributed to the decline in wild populations. As a result, the number of axolotls is now threatened by overfishing more than anything else.

Why Are Axolotls Important?

While many marine and freshwater species encounter difficulties in the wild, scientists are particularly concerned about axolotl population declines due to their enormous biological significance. These strange salamanders are among the world’s most studied freshwater organisms, and experts feel there is still a lot we can learn from their genetic makeup.

Axolotls’ remarkable capacity to regrow lost limbs has captivated biologists for decades. For example, animal regenerative limb loss could have enormous biological relevance in human medicine to treat certain degenerative disorders.

White blood cells called macrophages are critical for axolotls’ ability to regenerate. This discovery was made in 2013. In the absence of these cells, the injured salamanders develop a scar, indicating that macrophages act as a brake on the production of scar tissue. According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology in 2021, salamander macrophages originate in the liver rather than the bone marrow, unlike humans. However, even though it’s unlikely that human tissue and organ regeneration would be as straightforward as in salamanders, this discovery gives researchers a fresh and intriguing angle to investigate human regenerative therapies.

While many axolotls are still in captivity, experts are concerned that inbreeding affects their long-term health and genetic features, reducing their biological value. Concerns have also been raised that an increase in the number of inbred animals will negatively impact conservation efforts as diseases and deficits spread.

Since axolotl populations are rapidly declining in their natural habitat, the species is in danger of extinction unless considerable conservation efforts are made. Because this is such a rare and fascinating species, conservation is essential to its survival.

Read also: Axolotls Care Guide – How To Care For An Axolotl

Conclusion

The axolotl is only one example of an unusual animal that has become popular as a pet, almost vanishing from the wild. Unfortunately, these trends can have a disastrous influence on an animal’s original ecology, resulting in irreversible damage in many situations.

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