When humans create a barrier, how does it affect the rest of the world? Not simply other people, but hundreds of species of plants and animals? This is a question to ask about the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The border wall has been raised often in recent political debates, and while the issue of economics is usually addressed, other important issues have been ignored. These include the effects of wall construction on sensitive habitats, on endangered species, on migrating species, on seed dispersal of plants, on genetic diversity of wildlife, on permanent habitat destruction, and more.
But some people are raising the questions and documenting the impacts, including conservation photographer Krista Schlyer and biologist Jon Beckmann, who are featured in this "Think Like A Scientist" episode from Days Edge Productions. Schlyer has dedicated much of her conservation photography career to telling the story of the border wall and its impact on a wide range of species that live in the borderlands or cross them during migration.
"Two very important forces often dictate the actions and aspirations of all living things: the need to move, and the obstacles that stand in the way," writes Schlyer. Unfortunately, we're putting obstacles in the way of wildlife without considering how it could cause the decline or even the extinction of species.
When we spoke with Schlyer in 2014 about her work documenting the borderlands, she noted, "Different animals are impacted in different ways, not just by walls, but by the road infrastructure and habitat destruction that accompanies wall construction, as well as the destruction caused by other border militarization activities like off-road vehicles driven by border patrol agents, and bright lights installed in dark places that shy wildlife need to travel through."
This short documentary raises awareness about the widespread impact of a border wall and raises questions we should be asking before moving forward with any additional construction.