Animal species becoming extinct in Haiti as deforestation nearly complete

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Species of reptiles, amphibians and other vertebrates are becoming extinct in Haiti as deforestation has claimed more than 99 percent of the country's original wooded areas.

A research collaboration that included two scientists affiliated with Oregon State University found that 42 of Haiti's 50 largest mountains have lost all of their primary .

Moreover, mountaintop surveys of vertebrates showed that species are disappearing along with the trees, highlighting the global threat to biodiversity by human causes.

Along with the mass extinctions, the findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that over the next two decades Haiti will lose all of its remaining primary forest cover.

The National Science Foundation and the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund supported this research.

Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the developing world, is a small, densely populated Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Haiti's land area is less than 11,000 square miles—one-ninth the size of Oregon—but it holds nearly 11 million people, roughly 1,000 per square mile.

Likely the world's most deforested nation, Haiti saw its primary forest cover decline from 4.4 percent of total land area in 1988 to 0.32 percent in 2016.

Humans first appeared on Hispaniola 6,000 years ago and possibly numbered greater than 1 million by the time of Columbus. But the greatest levels of deforestation occurred following European colonization, resulting in complete primary forest loss on the first of those 50 mountains by 1986.

Tropical forests hold most of the Earth's biodiversity, and deforestation is the main threat to species globally.

Most reports of forest cover and deforestation in tropical nations, notes study co-author Warren Cohen of the OSU College of Forestry, fail to make a distinction between primary forest—essentially, untouched original forest—and disturbed forest: that which has been selectively logged, or has regrown after having been clear-cut.

"Our findings point to the need for better reporting of forest cover data of relevance to biodiversity, instead of 'total forest' as defined by 10 percent tree canopy coverage by the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization," he said. "Expanded detection and monitoring of primary forest globally will improve the efficiency of conservation measures inside and outside of protected ."

For this project, Cohen and Zhiqiang Yang—now with the U.S. Forest Service but a College of Forestry research associate during this study—collaborated with S. Blair Hedges of Temple and Joel Timyan of the Audubon Society in Haiti.

"Species extinction is usually delayed until the last habitats are gone, but mass extinction appears imminent in a small number of tropical countries with low ," Hedges said. "And mass extinction is already happening in Haiti because of deforestation."

Areas of endemism—those places that represent the only locations where certain "endemic" species occur—can be found at any elevation, but in Haiti they are mainly on isolated mountains.

"Our data suggest a general model of biodiversity loss from applicable to other areas as well," Hedges said. "This model of biodiversity loss pertains to any geographic region that contains primary forest and endemic . Time-series analysis of primary forest can effectively test and monitor the quality of areas designed for biodiversity protection, providing the data to address the greatest threat to terrestrial ."

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More information: S. Blair Hedges et al, Haiti's biodiversity threatened by nearly complete loss of primary forest, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1809753115
Citation: Animal species becoming extinct in Haiti as deforestation nearly complete (2018, October 29) retrieved 19 August 2019 from
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Oct 29, 2018
I have to wonder if Haiti is about to become the new Rapa Nui.

Oct 29, 2018
Religion: "Roman Catholicism [officially]... but voodoo may be considered the country's national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo. Most voodooists believe that their religion can coexist with Catholicism."
Birthrate: 2.92 births per woman (2016), down from 6.1 in 1960
Population density (people per sq. km): 394 sq. Km in 2016
Abortion rate: illegal. "post-abortion complications now account for as much as 30 percent of maternal deaths..."

Dominican Republic -
Religion: "40 percent Catholic (practicing), 29 percent Catholic (nonpracticing), and 18 percent evangelical Protestant. In the same study, approximately 11 percent stated they had no religion."
Birthrate: 2.42 births per woman (2016)
Pop density: 224 people per sq km
Abortion rate: 14.97%

Oct 29, 2018
-Haiti is an example of religion-fueled overpopulation, and the suffering and ruination that result.

"I had witnessed desperation in Haiti: arid soils, food scarcity, disease, malnutrition and polluted drinking water. However, driving into the forested mountains of the DR, I finally realized what Haiti had truly lost. It had lost its green: the green of life, the green that meant water and food and hope."

Oct 29, 2018
For comparison...

Religion: "Fully 44 percent responded that they were "not religious," while 27 percent identified as Catholic, 13 percent as Santeria or Order of Osha, 2 percent each for Protestant or something else and 9 percent gave no answer."
Birthrate: 1.72 births per woman (2016)
Pop density: 102 per squ. km (2012 est.)
Abortion rate: 40.13% (that's right - 4 out of 10 pregnancies terminated, third highest in the world)

Cuban revolution: Jul 26, 1953 – Jan 1, 1959
Recovery from the scourge of Catholicism slow but sure. Communism was designed specifically to destroy religion. Success throughout most of northern eurasia, which is why there hasn't been a major war there since 1945.

"TOTAL, 1921 - 2015: 959,000,000 reported abortions, estimated 1,040,000,000 total abortions

"Est current global monthly avg: 1,031,000 abortions"

Oct 29, 2018
In related news

"Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to President Trump, said Monday morning that the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue by an alleged gunman who said "I just want to kill Jews" was caused by "anti-religiosity" in general. When Conway was asked by Fox & Friends if Trump's rhetoric has encouraged violence, she said: "The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue... making fun of people who express religion..."

-Sorry Kellyanne, I know it's important for your side to support religionist imports and indigenes of all flavors in order to secure their support, but religion is a long term problem with only one outcome possible... as Maher says, "For the world to live, religion must die."

Note how quickly sentiments have changed on both sides? After 9/11 everyone loved Hitchens, dawkins, Sam harris, et al, Robert Downey jr was doing a movie in blackface, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was funny.

Superhumans of the future will look back and sigh.

Oct 30, 2018
Wiki history of Dominican Republic helpful. The OAS was heavily involved and one wonders why the OAS is not involved in settling the mining agreements allowing Hondurans to live on their and and have access to unpolluted water.
Over 1 million DR born in the DR live in the New York area send home $3 billion in remittances somehow does not bother PreZ Trump.


DACA is sometimes seen as legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship or as a way of receiving lawful immigration status. Neither is true, the deferment only provides the qualified recipients to have a lawful presence, meaning the authorities cannot force them to leave the country although they still lack legal immigration status. DACA statuses can be terminated or not renewed based on the discretion of DHS, as it is not a law. DACA is a presidential executive authority, which also means that it can change.
There are approx 2 million DACA.

Oct 30, 2018
One might well ask why 1 million DR does not upset anyone but the 1 million DACA does.

$30 billion may be the amount sent home to Mexico.

As much as such a move would affect Mexico — for which remittances account for just over 2 percent of GDP — the ramifications could actually be greatest for the region's poorest, most violence-prone countries. Remittances make up nearly 20 percent of GDP for Honduras and El Salvador, for instance. And in the case of Haiti they account for one-fourth.

Oct 30, 2018
One might well ask why 1 million DR does not upset anyone but the 1 million DACA does
"Although most Dominican immigrants in the United States are legally present, approximately 112,000 Dominicans were unauthorized in the 2010–14 period, according to Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates, comprising approximately 1 percent of the 11 million unauthorized population.

"MPI also estimated that, in 2017, approximately 9,000 unauthorized Dominicans were immediately eligible for the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, as of January 31, 2018, just under 2,300 Dominicans were active participants of the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. Overall, about 683,000 unauthorized youth are participating in the DACA program."

-I think you're missing a few important facts.

Oct 30, 2018
Then theres this

"Santo Domingo.- US authorities on Tuesday deported a group of 81 Dominican ex-cons who arrived at Las Americas Airport after serving time for various felonies, an reach 1,010 repatriated thus far this year (june 2017)."

Oct 30, 2018
I have to wonder if Haiti is about to become the new Rapa Nui.

Was my thought, too. We'll get to watch it happen in real-time.

Nov 05, 2018
Never dare to call this progress!

Prince EA says Sorry to our future generations: youtube. com/watch?v=eRLJscAlk1M

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