Extinction rates and causes studied

February 7, 2007

Canadian scientists say habitat fragmentation, over-exploitation and global warming could accelerate the risk of extinction for many species.

Camilo Mora and colleagues at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, warn the viability of many marine and terrestrial species could be impaired due to interacting human activities.

Using experimental microcosm populations of rotifers, a type of zooplankton, the scientists found individually each of the threats caused significant population declines. The study also found the rate of decline was much faster when populations were exposed to more than one threat.

The findings indicate multiple interacting threats are capable of causing rapid population extinction, and all threats should be simultaneously reduced if their synergies are to be avoided and if the current rate of species loss is to be reversed.

"An accelerated decay in biodiversity due to interacting human threats has been long suspected among ecologists and conservation biologists," Mora said. "This study reveals the potential for multiple threats to enhance each (other's) effects. Now we have an idea of the speed at which populations can decay when exposed to several threats."

The research appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Habitat loss is the top threat to Australia's species

Related Stories

Habitat loss is the top threat to Australia's species

October 17, 2017

Earlier this month, Australia's outgoing Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews told ABC radio that land clearing is not the biggest threat to Australia's wildlife. His claim caused a stir among Australia's biodiversity ...

Fossils reveal how bizarre mammal beat extinction

August 24, 2017

Animals that live on islands are among the most at risk from extinction. A remarkable eighty percent of extinctions occurring since 1500AD have been on islands, with inhabitants facing dangers from climate change, sea level ...

Magical creatures help conservation

August 24, 2017

Beliefs in magical creatures can impact the protection of biodiversity, and the field of conservation needs to consider them seriously, researchers have warned.

Recommended for you

Mountain glaciers shrinking across the West

October 22, 2017

Until recently, glaciers in the United States have been measured in two ways: placing stakes in the snow, as federal scientists have done each year since 1957 at South Cascade Glacier in Washington state; or tracking glacier ...

When words, structured data are placed on single canvas

October 22, 2017

If "ugh" is your favorite word to describe entering, amending and correcting data on the rows and columns on spreadsheets you are not alone. Coda, a new name in the document business, feels it's time for a change. This is ...

Dawn mission extended at Ceres

October 20, 2017

NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before ...

Metacognition training boosts gen chem exam scores

October 20, 2017

It's a lesson in scholastic humility: You waltz into an exam, confident that you've got a good enough grip on the class material to swing an 80 percent or so, maybe a 90 if some of the questions go your way.

Carbon coating gives biochar its garden-greening power

October 20, 2017

For more than 100 years, biochar, a carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance made from oxygen-deprived plant or other organic matter, has both delighted and puzzled scientists. As a soil additive, biochar can store carbon and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.