According to research by Queen’s University Belfast, nearly half of the world’s animal species are currently in decline. He writes for the BBC Science Journal.
The study examined the population densities of more than 70,000 animals and, according to the researchers, is the most comprehensive record yet. They found that 48% of species on Earth are currently experiencing population decline and less than 3% are increasing. Researchers say it is a stark warning about the global erosion of biodiversity.
The research, published in the journal Biological Reviews, was led by Catherine Finn and Dr Daniel Pinchira-Donoso, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, and Dr Florencia Gratarola, researcher at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
The study warns that the global erosion of biodiversity caused by human industrialization is more worrisome than previously thought. The study says that the biodiversity crisis is one of the most pressing challenges for humanity in the coming decades, as it threatens the functioning of the ecosystem on which life depends, the spread of diseases and the stability of the global economy.
It is normal for species to evolve and die over time – 98% of species that have ever lived are now extinct. But species extinctions are now occurring 100 to 1,000 times faster than scientists expected, according to the Natural History Museum. As a result, many scientists warn that humans may be the cause of Earth’s sixth mass extinction.
The extent of an extinction crisis is traditionally measured by protection categories of threats. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been keeping a list of threatened species since 1964. More than 150,000 species have been surveyed, and based on their method, 28% are threatened with extinction.
University researchers used different methods of analysis to examine population trends and found that the scale of the extinction crisis is much more serious than conventional measurements show. Using their method, the researchers determined that 33% of species considered safe by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are actually at risk of extinction.
Dr. Pincheira-Donoso said the new method gives a clearer picture that traditional methods can’t provide.
Their work is a stern warning about the current scale of the extinction crisis, which is already having a devastating impact on the stability of nature as a whole, and on human health and well-being.
What is biodiversity and why is it important?
Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth – animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms such as bacteria. Animals and plants provide people with everything they need to survive, including fresh water, food, and medicine. However, humans cannot obtain these benefits from individual species – a rich variety of animals and plants must work together.
Plants are also important because they improve the physical environment: they clean the air, limit moderate increases in temperature, and provide protection from climate change. Red mangrove swamps and coral reefs prevent erosion caused by sea level rise. Trees common in cities are excellent at absorbing carbon dioxide and removing pollution from the air.
Source: BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/)
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