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article imageEarth's vertebrates fall drastically over four decades

By Tim Sandle     Nov 5, 2016 in Environment
The Earth’s wildlife is facing something of a crisis. Earth's vertebrates have fallen 58 percent in past four decades, according to a new survey.
The Living Planet Report makes a prediction that by 2020, vertebrate populations will have declined by two-thirds from the 1970 baseline. The report has been prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London. Moreover, in 2012 it was reported that one in five of the world’s invertebrate species are threatened with extinction. The latest figures are an increase on this already stark prediction.
The report is based on over 3,000 different sources of data. Here some 14,152 populations relating to 3,700 vertebrate species have been tracked and trended.
The reasons for the decline have been placed at the door of human activity. Reasons cited include deforestation, poaching and human-induced climate change. Of these, the main threat comes from habitat loss, such as habitats removed through logging, agriculture and the disruption of freshwater systems such as rivers.
According to Sean Maxwell and colleagues, other drivers for biodiversity decline include overexploitation (this is the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction) and agriculture (stemming from the production of food).
Commenting on the Living Planet Report, Dr. Mike Hoffmann, senior scientist to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, told the science news site Nature: “An average decline in population abundance exceeding 80 percent is, frankly, terrifying. This is arguably the most damning evidence yet of the damage we are wreaking on our freshwater environments.”
In related news, a separate survey redacts that butterflies in the U.K. could be about to be wiped out by extreme weather. This is due to a combination of heat waves, cold snaps and heavy rain. This relates to data compiled by the U.K. Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.
A colorful butterfly
A colorful butterfly
Interviewed by The Independent, the lead research scientist Dr. Aldina Franco, who works at the University of East Anglia, stated: "This may be due to increased incidences of disease or potentially extreme hot temperatures acting as a cue for butterflies or their larvae to come out from over-wintering too early and subsequently (be) killed off by temperatures returning to colder conditions."
More about Species loss, Vertebrates, Nature, Animals, Climate change
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