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1 August 2012 Military base growth in Afghanistan: a threat to scorpion populations?
Alexander K. Stewart
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Coalition military bases in Afghanistan are increasing in area, infrastructure and population due to increased military efforts. From 2004 to 2010, a 40-hectare base in Ghazni, Afghanistan transitioned from a montane shrubland to a small, modern “village.” This shift comprised an over 50-fold increase in hardcover and a 20-fold increase in the human population. I searched the base with UV light (n  =  43.6 h) for scorpions, especially Mesobuthus Vachon 1950, an established, opportunistic scorpion found in Ghazni City, 5 km north. I completed my searches along two tracks (> 5 km total length) and considered all habitats for this scorpion. Anthropogenic microhabitats comprised concrete walls, concrete barriers, gabions or sandbags, each in contact with a dirt or gravel substrate (eight possible); all were thermally appealing (mean  =  2.3°C warmer than ambient temperature). Despite the population of Mesobuthus caucasicus Nordmann 1840 in Ghazni City and the increase in thermally attractive microhabitats on the base, I found no scorpions. I propose that the rapid anthropogenic change due to base improvements outpaces the capacity of this scorpion to disperse to a new, albeit satisfactory, environment. Here, I report my observations of scorpion diversity and abundance in east-central Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush Mountains, with a focus on the impact of increasing anthropogenic change upon the environment.

Alexander K. Stewart "Military base growth in Afghanistan: a threat to scorpion populations?," The Journal of Arachnology 40(2), 245-248, (1 August 2012).
Received: 30 August 2011; Published: 1 August 2012
anthropogenic change
U.S. Army
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