Home LATEST NEWS The 6th extinction of species would be underestimated

The 6th extinction of species would be underestimated

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Until today, it was estimated that 0.04% of species had disappeared.

The authors of this work published in the journal Biological ReviewsHave (New window)Have (in English) were interested in invertebrates, particularly molluscs, since their shells remain after the disappearance of a species.

According to these researchers, 150,000 to 260,000 living species have died out in the last few hundred years.

The inclusion of invertebrates is key to confirming that we are indeed witnessing the start of the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history., says Professor Robert Cowie of the University of Hawaii.

Until now, vertebrates, which represent only 3% of known biodiversity, were overrepresented in calculations of the disappearance of species associated with this mass extinction, which stands out from the others because it is caused by human activities.

A 6th disputed extinction

Appeared in the scientific literature in the last three decades, the idea of ​​a sixth extinction is still not unanimous.

Some prefer the concept of biodiversity crisis claiming that estimated extinction rates are exaggerated and that the current extinction rate is not significantly higher than the background natural rate associated with the evolutionary trajectory of life on Earth.

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000 to 45000years, although extinction rates today are much higher than at the start”,”text”:”We include in our work all anthropogenic extinctions since modern humans left Africa ages ago. 200,000 to 45,000 years ago, although extinction rates today are much higher than early”}}”>We include in our work all anthropogenic extinctions since modern humans left Africa 200,000 to 45,000 years ago, although extinction rates today are much higher than at the beginning, explain Robert Cowie and his colleagues Philippe Bouchet and Benoît Fontaine, of the National Museum of Natural History of France.

These researchers believe that current extinction rates, especially among terrestrial invertebrates, are much higher than natural extinction rates. According to them, using extinction data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List to determine current extinction rates inevitably leads to an underestimate, except for birds and birds. the mammals.

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The incorporation in this study of estimates of the actual number of invertebrate extinctions allows, according to the authors, to conclude that the rate greatly exceeds the natural rate and that we may well be witnessing the start of the sixth mass extinction.

Our study lays out arguments clearly showing that there is a biodiversity crisis, and most likely the beginning of the sixth mass extinction., say the researchers.

We are pessimistic about the fate of most biodiversity, much of which will disappear without our ever knowing it existed. Denying the crisis, accepting it and doing nothing, or accepting it and manipulating it for profit […] is an abrogation of moral responsibility, they conclude.

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