Mites are everywhere, even in our pores. They often do a good job, and in some cases cause problems. In a group of llama-like animals in Argentina, they created a battlefield.
A Yale University student had to interrupt her research in a natural park in Argentina due to the Covid pandemic. Fortunately, by that time she had already collected enough data to further research something very remarkable: the problems experienced by the locals in Vicuñas.
The population was decreasing. And rap too. The reason: a mite lives in the skin of animals that may have moved from a farm tamed llama to this wild group of vicuñas. Mites lay eggs in the skin, which can cause animals to lose a piece of their fur and irritate the skin. This can get so out of control that they become too weak to eat and eventually die from it. Isn’t it just because they are becoming easier prey for puma in the area? No, it showed tracking data from Pumas. They didn’t kill Vicuña any more than before.
The rapid decline in vicuña numbers has also had an impact on the environment. The grass that they usually kept for a short time suddenly grew in all directions, the type of vegetation changed and the vultures that would usually keep a close eye if a puma had made a vicuña victim somewhere became less frequent in the garden.
An entire ecosystem has changed, all thanks to a tiny mite.
Read more: How does Mange recreate an ecosystem