Extinction is part of evolution, but the unnatural rapidity of current species losses forces us to address whether we are cutting off twigs or whole branches from the tree of life. — Matt Davis, scholar of evolutionary history There is more than one way to look at the current period of mass extinction — count the species blinking out, chart them by class or map their geographic distribution, track the pace of the demise and so on. A particularly intriguing one, new to me and maybe to you, is at the center of a fresh analysis quoted above, which examines the variable impact of ongoing mammal losses on Earth’s evolutionary history, and concludes that not all critters contribute equally. Think for a moment of evolution not as a set of independent threads, each ending in an animal we know, but as a branching process. Maybe try seeing it as that splendid maple with the vermilion leaves that caught your eye the other day. Maples lose their leaves each fall; … [Read more...] about A new way of seeing species extinction, and humans’ impact on other mammals
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ENVIRONMENT 10/16/2018 08:13 am ET A somber new study estimates that it could take several million years for mammal diversity to recover from humanity’s impact. By Dominique Mosbergen Humans have helped propel the extinction of more than 300 mammal species — equaling a staggering loss of 2.5 billion years’ worth of unique evolutionary history, according to a grim new study published Monday. It could take many millions of years for mammals to evolve enough new species to recover from the destruction humans have caused, researchers estimated. The human species, however, won’t likely survive to see the day. “We are doing something that will last millions of years beyond us,” paleontologist Matt Davis of Denmark’s Aarhus University, who led the new research, told The Guardian of humans’ devastating impact on biodiversity. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, estimates … [Read more...] about Mammals Will Still Be Recovering From Human Destruction Long After We’re Gone
Shutterstock Looking for news you can trust?Subscribe to our free newsletters. For most people, the term “wilderness” evokes imagery of the terrestrial sort: coniferous forests, sandy deserts, rolling grasslands, icy white tundra. But now, for the first time ever, a group of international researchers has mapped wilderness of the marine variety, specifically, areas in the ocean with little impact from human activity. And—surprise, surprise!—they discovered there isn’t much area left. In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, the researchers found that only 13 percent of the world’s oceans can be classified as “wilderness,” and the areas are primarily located in the Arctic, Antarctic, and high seas. In all, it’s a total area of about 55 million square kilometers, or about three times the size of Russia. (The story on land is at least slightly better, where about 23 … [Read more...] about Researchers Mapped “Marine Wilderness” for the First Time Ever—And the Outcome is Bleak
The problem A feral cat is missing an eye in Slidell, La. (Photo by Scott Threlkeld, The Times-Picayune archive) The problem Scientists estimate that between 60 and 160 million feral cats roam the United States. A recent letter to the editor at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune claimed cats are the "answer to New Orleans' rat problem," and suggested increasing their local numbers. Scientific studies, however, say otherwise. Feral, free-roaming cats have been documented by dozens of studies to be indiscriminate killers of wildlife and the cause of at least 63 species extinctions, according to a 2016 analysis of invasive species impacts. But while the evidence of their hunting prowess is overwhelming, there is little proof that cats are effective at controlling urban rats, which studies have shown are not their primary prey. Sylvester chasing Tweety is more likely than Tom pursuing Jerry. Outdoor cats also carry a dangerous parasite that has been linked to schizophrenia, … [Read more...] about 15 reasons science says feral cats are a big problem
Share This Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about Facebook Email Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Pinterest Valdez: Do we really need eagles over the Grand Canyon? Bald eagles, pronghorn and wolves are threatened in Arizona. And believe it or not, your urban life would be horribly impacted if they went extinct. Sent! A link has been sent to your friend's email address. Posted! A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Join the Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs Subscribe Today Log In Subscribed, but don't have a login? Register your digital access. Linda Valdez, opinion columnist Published 6:00 a.m. MT March 31, 2018 Linda Valdez: Bald eagles, pronghorn and wolves are threatened in Arizona. And believe it or not, your urban life would be horribly impacted if they went extinct. CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN COMMENT EMAIL MORE … [Read more...] about Valdez: Do we really need eagles over the Grand Canyon?