Lithium is powering the world’s electric vehicles, making the metal a key part in the quest to reduce carbon emissions.
Lithium is powering the world’s electric vehicles, making the metal a key part in the quest to reduce carbon emissions. But the combination of lithium mining and climate change in the Andes Mountains may be negatively influencing flamingo populations, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The study focused on the effects that lithium mining and climate change are having on the shallow, saltwater lakes in the Chilean Andes where flamingos flock for feeding and breeding. The results show that two species of flamingos that breed only in these mountains have already lost 10 to 12 percent of their populations in just 11 years, but only at the lake affected by mining.
“Given how rapidly our demand for lithium is growing, there is a great need to understand what negative effects its production might be having on biodiversity and especially those species, like flamingos, that are important to local economies,” says Dr. Nathan Senner, a population biologist at the University of South Carolina and co-author on the paper.
Most of the world’s lithium is mined in the ‘Lithium Triangle’ of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. Meanwhile, the region is home to three species of flamingos—Andean, James’, and Chilean—two of which breed nowhere else in the world and which form the foundation of the region’s ecotourism industry.
Read more at University of South Carolina
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