Study Highlights the Dire Consequences of Human Activities on Biodiversity
A recent study has raised alarms about the potential onset of a sixth mass extinction, emphasizing that human activities are driving the loss of entire branches of the “Tree of Life.” The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), warns that the extinction crisis is as severe as the climate change crisis, yet it remains unrecognized.
|Facts of the News|
|Human activities are causing the loss of entire branches of the “Tree of Life”|
|The study is the first to assess modern extinction rates above the species level|
|73 genera have become extinct in the last 500 years, a process that should have taken 18,000 years naturally|
The study is unique as it goes beyond examining the loss of individual species to assess the extinction of entire genera. The researchers relied on data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), focusing on vertebrate species, excluding fish. They found that out of approximately 5,400 genera comprising 34,600 species, 73 had become extinct in the last 500 years, predominantly in the last two centuries.
Gerardo Ceballos, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a co-author of the study, emphasized that what is at stake is the future of mankind. The loss of one genus can have repercussions on an entire ecosystem. Ceballos likened the situation to removing bricks from a wall, warning that we are nearing a point where the wall, representing our civilization, could collapse.
Experts are calling for urgent action to halt the destruction of natural habitats and to restore those that have been lost. While the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, there is still hope to save many genera if actions are taken promptly.
|In biological classification, a genus is a rank that lies between species and family. It groups together species that are structurally similar or evolutionarily related. Understanding the concept of genus is vital in studying biodiversity and the impacts of extinction at a level above species. Learn more about the genus on Wikipedia.|
What does the study reveal about the current rate of extinction?
The study reveals an alarming rate of extinction, with 73 genera becoming extinct in the last 500 years, a process that naturally should have taken 18,000 years. It warns of a potential onset of a sixth mass extinction driven by human activities, including habitat destruction and overfishing.
What is the “Tree of Life” referred to in the study?
The “Tree of Life” is a representation of living things first developed by Charles Darwin. It illustrates the relationships among various species, showing how they diverge from common ancestors. The study indicates that human activities are causing the loss of entire branches of this tree, not just individual species.
What can be done to prevent further loss of genera?
To prevent further loss of genera, it is crucial to halt the destruction of natural habitats and restore those that have been lost. The study emphasizes that there is still time to save many genera if urgent actions are undertaken to preserve biodiversity and protect ecosystems.
Source: Yahoo News