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 user 2006-03-22 at 11:59:00 am Views: 34
  • #14934

    Stopping the next extinction wave
    hope conservationists will use our findings to pre-empt future species
    losses rather than concentrating solely on those species already under

    Conservationists are being urged to focus on prevention rather than cure.
    scientific study pinpoints 20 areas in the world where animals are not
    at immediate risk of extinction, but where the risk is likely to arise
    The regions include Greenland and the Siberian tundra, Caribbean islands and parts of South-East Asia.
    London-based research team say they hope their work will help
    conservationists prevent extinctions through early intervention.
    study, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    (PNAS), concentrates on a concept called “latent extinction risk”.
    means animals are not under threat right now, and may not be classified
    as in danger according to the Red List, the internationally-accepted
    database of threatened species.
    But the pattern of human development
    means they could be sent on a fast track to extinction in the near
    future, perhaps overtaking other species currently in higher-risk
    “We can see this leap-frogging happening now, for
    example with the Guatemalan howler monkey, which was classified as
    being on the ‘least concern’ list in 2000 but which moved to the
    ‘endangered’ list in 2004 as it lost much of its forest habitat,” said
    study leader Dr Marcel Cardillo from Imperial College London.
    hope conservationists will use our findings to pre-empt future species
    losses rather than concentrating solely on those species already under
    threat.”Ox and reindeer
    Proactive solutions tend to be cheaper and easier
    Thomas Brooks
    The scientists calculated the latent extinction risk for more than 1,500 non-marine mammals.
    the conclusions of other groups, they find that species at particular
    risk tend to have relatively large bodies, live in small areas and
    reproduce relatively slowly; these include, they say, the North
    American reindeer, the musk ox, the Seychelles flying fox and the brown
    Perhaps surprisingly, areas identified as containing species
    with a particularly large latent extinction risk exclude well-known
    biodiversity hotspots such as the Amazon and Congo basins, and include
    sub-Polar regions in northern Canada, northern Russia and Greenland.
    am surprised that paper doesn’t pick up the Amazon and Congo basins,
    regions where there is a large number of animal species with small
    ranges,” observed Thomas Brooks of the Center for Applied Biodiversity
    Science (CABS) in Washington DC, a division of Conservation
    One reason for this may be poor information. Some
    databases of plants and animals are badly in need of revision – a flaw
    which scientific groups led by IUCN, the World Conservation Union, are
    trying to address through improving background studies of various
    species and ecosystems.
    Ahead of the curve
    International is one of a number of groups which already tries to mount
    “preventative” programmes rather than waiting until very few members of
    a species remain.
    “It’s widely recognised among conservation
    practitioners that wherever we have the opportunity we should get ahead
    of the curve and implement proactive conservation measures,” Dr Brooks
    told the BBC News website.
    “Proactive solutions tend to be cheaper and easier.
    “But the magnitude of human impacts on biodiversity are such that most conservation programmes will inevitably be reactive.”
    “last-chance” programmes have proved successful. In Yellowstone
    National Park, grizzly bears have recovered far enough to come off the
    US endangered species list; while in the UK, numbers of stone curlew
    breeding pairs have doubled over the last 20 years.|
    Through the
    Convention on Biological Diversity, the international community has set
    itself the goal of making a “substantial reduction in the rate of loss
    of biological diversity” by 2010.
    But overall, extinctions are
    coming at 100 to 1,000 times the normal background rate, according to
    the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a vast attempt to audit the
    Earth’s ecological health which was published last year.
    It concluded that a third of all amphibians, a fifth of mammals and an eighth of all birds are now threatened with extinction.
    It also concluded that although humanity is the cause, humanity will ultimately be among the losers.
    biodiversity will, it says, impact societies at a number of levels,
    including diminishing the availability of economically valuable natural
    goods such as timber and compromising “ecosystem services” such as
    fresh water and biodegrading bacteria.

    1: Northern Canada and Alaska
    2: Greenland
    3: Siberian tundra
    4: Eastern Canadian forests
    5: Bahamas
    6: East Indian highlands
    7: Southern Polynesia
    8: Lesser Antilles
    9: Andaman and Nicobar Islands    
    10: Borneo, Sulawesi and the Moluccas
    11: New Guinea
    12: Patagonian coast
    13: Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and West Java
    14: Nusa Tengarra
    15: Tasmania and the Bass Strait
    16: Melanesia