Do Cash Crops and Species Compete for Scarce Water?
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Water scarcity is a major environmental challenge of today. More than 2/3 of global water consumption is used in agriculture, part of which for export production or so called cash crops. Some argue that trade of water intensive crops can alleviate differences in water scarcity. However, trade can also put pressure on local water resources and ecosystems when crops are produced in water scarce regions. This study explores if cash crops and species compete for scarce water by investigating global correlation in year 2000 between scarce water consumption in cash crop production and species richness and vulnerability level of water dependent animals amphibians. It was found that most scarce water intensive cash crops are produced in areas where low number of amphibian species live, suggesting no competition between cash crops and amphibian richness in the present agricultural areas. Moreover, in the present analysis it was found that most cash crops do not compete with vulnerable amphibians, which live in areas with minimal or no cash crop production. There are exceptions, however, where scarce water intensive cash crops, rich amphibian diversity and vulnerable amphibians coexist. Investigation of Western Ghats in India reveals that some cash crops like coffee and rice may sustain amphibians where their natural habitat is lost. This study can suggest potential hotspots for further local investigations looking at the relationship between water scarcity and biodiversity.