Scientists from the University of Texas oppose President Donald Trump's proposed Mexican border wall, saying that it endangers the lives of wild animals and plants.
A study published Monday in Frontiers of Ecology reported that the 1,200 border between Texas and Mexico can contribute to potential habitat destruction, displacement of food, and overall damage to the ecosystem.
Currently, there is a 100-mile wall along the border. Although the Congress has denied the petition of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge to construct a physical border, other states are already planning to build the same.
"Up to now, the wall has either gone through cities or deserts. This is the Rio Grande we're talking about here. It's totally different," said Norma Fowler, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology.
Fowler further explained that the growing concern among biologists is due to the fact that Texas is so rich in biodiversity and natural heritage.
Scientific findings from 14 publications highlighted specific effects of extending the Mexican border. One of the most pressing concerns is the Tamaulipan thornscrub, a subtropical and semi-arid type of vegetation that was once abundant in the Rio Grande.
Today, this particular species of thornscrub is gradually disappearing as more commercial and residential buildings are constructed in South Texas.
Another rare wildlife that could potentially be endangered is the Zapata bladderpod, which is native to Texas. This plant grows exactly where the border wall will be built together with whiskerbush cactus.
Ocelots, a native wildcat, is also on the brink of possible extinction since there are only 120 of this species accounted for, according to Texas Wildlife Department.
Plants and animals living by the river or need to access the river for food and ecotourism will be most likely affected by the impending border construction.
The Lower Rio Grande is a typical destination for birdwatchers given its abundance in birds such as the green jay and the Altamira oriole. Ecotourism in the Rio Grande alone generates about $344 million based on the study conducted by the Texas A&M University.
"If ecotourism declines significantly because access to preserves has been impeded, there may be negative economic impacts on the region," read the letter written by Fowler and co-author Tim Keith.
To lessen the damage to nature and wildlife, Fowler's team recommends limited construction of physical barriers and roads. In any event that it is inevitable, conservationists said buildings should blend with the environment.