Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extinction Rate Across The Globe Reaches Historical Proportions

Date:
January 10, 2002
Source:
University Of Texas, Austin
Summary:
Half of all living bird and mammal species will be gone within 200 or 300 years, according to a botany professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Half of all living bird and mammal species will be gone within 200 or 300 years, according to a botany professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

Although the extinction of various species is a natural phenomenon, the rate of extinction occurring in today's world is exceptional -- as many as 100 to1,000 times greater than normal, Dr. Donald A. Levin said in the January-February issue of American Scientist magazine. The co-author is Levin's son, Phillip S. Levin, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist who is an expert on the demography of fish, especially salmon.

Levin's column noted that on average, a distinct species of plant or animal becomes extinct every 20 minutes. Donald Levin, who works in the section of integrative biology in the College of Natural Sciences, said research shows the rate of current loss is highly unusual -- clearly qualifying the present period as one of the six great periods of mass extinction in the history of Earth.

"The numbers are grim," he said. "Some 2,000 species of Pacific Island birds (about 15 percent of the world total) have gone extinct since human colonization. Roughly 20 of the 297 known mussel and clam species and 40 of about 950 fishes have perished in North America in the last century. The globe has experienced similar waves of destruction just five times in the past."

Biological diversity ultimately recovered after each of the five past mass extinctions, probably requiring several million years in each instance. As for today's mass extinction, Levin said some ecologists believe the low level of species diversity may become a permanent state, especially if vast tracts of wilderness area are destroyed.

Other experts, in contrast, say breaking up today's vast ranges into smaller habitats could promote the evolution of new species. That's because populations of the same type of organism that are separated from each other may diverge over time. As populations are reduced in size, genetic changes may accumulate more rapidly. Another reason diversity may rebound -- as it normally does after a major extinction episode -- is that disturbances caused by human beings do not eliminate habitats, but merely change them.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas, Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas, Austin. "Extinction Rate Across The Globe Reaches Historical Proportions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109074801.htm>.
University Of Texas, Austin. (2002, January 10). Extinction Rate Across The Globe Reaches Historical Proportions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109074801.htm
University Of Texas, Austin. "Extinction Rate Across The Globe Reaches Historical Proportions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109074801.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins