This may refer to groups of animals endangered by climate change. There are several hypotheses as to why this second mass extinction occurred at that time in geologic history. ", "Ecology and conservation biology of avian malaria", "Impending extinction crisis of the world's primates: Why primates matter", "Tracking and combatting our current mass extinction", Lions, tigers, big cats may face extinction in 20 years, "Cheetahs Are Far Closer To Extinction Than We Realized", "Global pollinator decline: a literature review", "Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers", "Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature, "A northern white rhino has died. However, damage to peatland contributes to 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 8% of those caused by burning fossil fuels. Eagles as big as motorcycles in New Zealand hunted gigantic, flightless moas, which themselves could stand over 12 feet tall. [28] Such disappearances might be the result of the proliferation of modern humans; some recent studies favor this theory. Most would think of Africa as “The Last Bastion of Big,” but it, too, has seen many species and environments vanish. The first evidence of direct human predation leading to extinction in Australia was published in 2016. Join us for the next part in this series as we look at the basic causes of modern mass extinction. [10][66][67], Other, related human causes of the extinction event include deforestation, hunting, pollution,[68] the introduction in various regions of non-native species, and the widespread transmission of infectious diseases spread through livestock and crops. Cougar-sized cheetahs prowled the Midwest in America, and were probably just as fast as those we know today. The extinctions of megafauna (giant animals) have been some of the most hotly debated because of the implication of our own species as a suspect. In a worst-case scenario, 40% could go extinct over the same time period.[212]. We humans have occupied only a very thin slice of time on this planet. “Even though only an estimated 2% of … [71], Megafauna were once found on every continent of the world and large islands such as New Zealand and Madagascar, but are now almost exclusively found on the continent of Africa, with notable comparisons on Australia and the islands previously mentioned experiencing population crashes and trophic cascades shortly after the earliest human settlers. We’re on the threshold of a sixth. The theory goes that, in their attempts to take advantage of Australia’s megafauna, the newly arrived Aborigines ended up setting flame to the entire continent and devastating its plant and animal life, changing it forever. Only five times before in our planet’s history have so many species and so much biodiversity been lost so quickly. [144][145] Hunting alone threatens bird and mammalian populations around the world. I’m sorry to say….Humans will cause their own extinction and at this time are taking many other creatures along with them. Many large species play critical roles in ecosystems and so their extinctions could lead to ecological cascades that would influence the structure and function of future ecosystems beyond the simple fact of losing those species. Students collaboratively investigate our planet’s five mass extinctions and the possibility of a sixth mass extinction. [120], There are many problems with this theory, as this disease would have to meet several criteria: it has to be able to sustain itself in an environment with no hosts; it has to have a high infection rate; and be extremely lethal, with a mortality rate of 50–75%. A sixth mass extinction a barely perceptible process, it can only be stopped with a change driven by an aware and committed citizenry “The world is, and always has been, in a state of flux.” With this simple phrase, the IUCN –International Union for Conservation of Nature– began its 2007 report with data regarding endangered species featured on their Red List. [69], Some scholars assert that the emergence of capitalism as the dominant economic system has accelerated ecological exploitation and destruction, and has also exacerbated mass species extinction. [184] Since the 1970s food production has soared in order to feed a growing human population and bolster economic growth, but at a huge price to the environment and other species. Extinction begin million years our planet ’ s oceans of species added to existing conditions! 20 biodiversity targets proposed, only six were `` partially achieved '' by the loss of species within a short... 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