Study Finds 25 Percent of World’s Mammals at Risk of Extinction
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) unveiled a dark new study today, detailing the potential permanent demise of 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on earth.
If the findings in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species report were to be fulfilled, it would represent a catastrophic impact on the broader ecology and a cataclysmic acceleration of natural mammalian extinction rates.
According to PBS’ The Current Mass Extinction, “The typical rate of extinction differs by different groups of organisms. Mammals, for instance, have an average species ‘lifespan’ from origination to extinction of about 1 million years, although some species persist for as long as 10 million years…Given the average species lifespan for mammals, the background extinction rate for this group would be approximately one species lost every 200 years.”
Since 1500, at least 76 mammals have become extinct. This is a rate of thirty species vanishing every 200 years.
“Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live,” said Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN Director General. “We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives.”
We are living in a present-day mass extinction period that has likely been in motion for quite some time. As the fossil record demonstrates, living creatures have been decimated over much of the earth on five separate occasions in the past 500 million years.
But different species undergo different background extinction rates. For example, of the 10,000 known bird species, an estimated 130 have disappeared since 1500 – an extinction rate of roughly one species every four years. Meanwhile, The Global Amphibian Assessment (GGA) reported earlier this year that nearly 32% of all amphibian species are threatened. There are clearly broad declines among the general ecology.
A threat to 25 percent of mammalian species is troubling to the species in question and to the species that rely on mammals to propagate – however, it could be welcome news to insects. A 2006 study by the University of Washington cited an accelerating insect population, spurred by global warming.
Tags: Extinction , Population , Mammals , Insects , Birds , Amphibians , Conservation , Ecology , Global Warming , Fossils
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.