Duncan: Alabama No. 1 for endangered species

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Alabama Audubon executive director Dr. Scot Duncan closed the Selma-Dallas County Public Library’s Lunch at the Library series for the 2023-24 season on Thursday.

Duncan discussed his two books, “Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity” and “Southern Rivers: Restoring America’s Freshwater Biodiversity.”

“We have a lot to brag about in Alabama,” Duncan said. “We are fourth in total species of plants and animals. Only California, Texas, and Arizona are ahead of us. Alabama ranks number one in the U.S. for the number of freshwater crayfish, fish, snail, turtle, and mussel species. Alabama is a rock star when it comes to biodiversity.”

Email newsletter signup

Duncan, a Pensacola, Florida, native, began at Alabama Audubon in 2022 after 20 years as a biology professor at Birmingham-Southern College.

“This is a dream job for me. It weaves together the things I am most passionate about in my career: science, conservation, education, advocacy, and—especially—birds,” Duncan said. “I can’t imagine a life without birds.”

Duncan said a Blackbelt Birding Festival is scheduled for August 2-4, but did not give a time or location.  

“The potential for birds in the Black Belt is amazing,” Duncan said. “You’ve got painted buntings, northern parula and summer tanagers. You can’t find those birds anywhere else.”

But Alabama is second behind Hawaii in endangered species. 

“Islands are really difficult places to maintain native biodiversity,” Duncan said. “So on the continent, we’re the number one state for extinctions.”

Duncan said the rivers aren’t in good shape. He said 19% of the freshwater fish species are at risk because of pollution and habitat. The Alabama River isn’t clear, and it will be a long time before it is clear.

Selma-Dallas County Public Library executive director Becky Nichols said Lunch at the Library series will resume in September and she’s already gotten some guest speakers scheduled into 2025.