In 1963, the Venezuelan government issues the building of a hydroelectric dam on the Caroni River.  The

 dam raised the water level over 390 feet (120 meters) above that of the original Caroni River. however, this was just the beginning. In 1986, Venezuela finished up the project and increased the hight of the river another 164 feet (50 meters). This massive increase in the hight of the river created a giant lake known now as Lake Guri.  This massive man-made lake is the size of almost two Rhode Islands. Where there were once vast valleys there are now deep trenches, where there were once high hill tops, there are now almost-barren islands. At first, no one really expected the damage this would create. Officials believed that most species would just migrate to other surrounding wildernesss and all would be well, unfortuantaly this was not the case. The bioderversity of the region was about to be met with an unexpected disaster. 

 As Flood waters began to settle into there new found homes, the animals and plants began to feel the damage. This event is a huge example of the dangers of Fragmentation. Though this an extreme case it still holds the same qualities of fragmentation. In the beginning, the predators were the first to suffer. With  no room to roam and prey becoming scarce the predators of the area, such as pumas, jaguars, anacondas, eagles, armadillos, and some weasels were forced to flee the area. The predators were able to swim or fly away from the area, however some were starved to death or drowned in the flood waters. Without these main predators, the future looked bleak. “Taking out predators has a cascade of effects on other populations, down to the plant life,” said John Terborgh, a professor of environmental science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. As the predators diminished, their prey, such as howler monkeys, iguanas, and leaf-cutting ants began to multiply at unseen rates. though this may not seem like a large problem, there was no where enough room and resources for them on the chains of islands they now inhabited. These animals, being huge plant eaters, began to destroy to natural plant life all around. This problem is still huge today and many ecologist still try to go to each Guri island to try to free each marooned species from there island of certain starvation. 

           Though this ecological diaster is thousands of miles away from our countries borders and doesn’t have a direct effect on our daily life, we must look at this problem and learn from the consequences. As I stated before, the Lake Guri Disaster is a prime example of fragmentation. Ecological Fragmentation occurs when areas of land are broken apart from one another creating bunches of little “islands”. This cause huge ecological problems, such as the ones created by Lake Guri. Fragmentation can also cause other problems such as the prevention of migrating species and the loss of usable land for consumers. Fragmentation does not need to occur via water however. Here in the United States, where we feel everything is so ecologically sound, we are surrounded by fragmentation. Be it large inter-states dividing forests, farm land disrupting the prairies, or cites destroying miles of natural landscapes,  Fragmentation plagues our beautiful country. If there are any positives we can take from the disaster at Lake Guri, we can look at the vast destruction and look for ways we can avoid this problem and never let it happen again.