Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Anthropologist Predicts Major Threat to Species Within 50 Years

10.06.2003


If the world’s human population continues to rise at its current rate, the planet will increase the numbers of threatened species at least 7 percent worldwide in the next 20 years and twice that many by the year 2050.



In a recent model of the impact human population growth has on biological diversity, Ohio State University anthropologist Jeffrey McKee and his colleagues warn that the United States alone will add at least 10 additional species to the “threatened” list within 50 years.

The prediction, carried in a paper published in the journal Biological Conservation, arose from an effort by McKee to separate the effects of the numbers of humans from questions about how they use – or abuse – the environment.


McKee, an associate professor of both anthropology and of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at the university, was seeking a direct correlation between population growth and the number of threatened species. To do so, he had to balance the size of each country against the number of people living within its borders in order to develop an accurate population density.

“We knew that there are a number of natural components (that can affect species vulnerability),” he said. “We wanted to put all of the countries in the study on a level playing field in terms of their particular environments and the number of species present.”

Once they combined the natural factors together with the human factors and did the tabulations, McKee says the result was an 88 percent predictability of how many species would be threatened if human population continued to grow.

The remaining 12 percent, he says, is explainable using other variables, such as the number of endemic species in a specific country as well as differences in patterns of human behavior. The greater the diversity, he said, the more likely his estimate could be wrong because of the greater number of species still unknown to science.

McKee’s prediction that the United States would face 10 additional threatened species in the next half-century may seem minimal, he said, but it isn’t.

“The loss of an additional 10 species of mammals and birds doesn’t sound like a lot but it really is,” he said. “Remember, it takes hundreds of thousands of years for a new species to arise. We’re saying that it may only take 50 years for 10 of them to reach the brink of extinction.”

McKee emphasized that this predicted additional 10 species at risk does not include the current rate of disappearing species the world now faces.

“In our study, we only looked at species of mammals and birds,” he said. “We didn’t include the countless species of insects and other life forms, many of which are relatively unknown, in this analysis.”

McKee sees the loss of these mammals and birds as a kind of “canary in a coal mine” phenomenon, a warning of the impact on the environment.

“We have no way of knowing before it is lost if one particular animal is a ‘keystone’ species – one upon which countless others depend,” he said.

To reach his conclusions, McKee started with data on 230 nations. He excluded island nations and those whose small size forced an unusual population density. Other nations, such as the former Soviet block, were excluded for lack of precise data. In the end, he used a list of 114 countries worldwide.

He linked the total numbers of known mammals and birds from international databases with the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List of Threatened Species. To this he added the U.S. Census Bureau’s current data on human population and its projections for world population growth. Climatic data such as annual precipitation and temperatures were factored in as well.

His study pointed to the Congo as having the worst future – an estimated addition of 26 threatened species by the year 2050, an increase of 39.8 percent. At least 100 of the 114 nations covered in the study showed a possible increase in the number of threatened species. Another 10 nations should have a decrease in the number of threatened species by 2050, because of their individual declines in human population, he said.

“The density of people is a key factor in species threats,” he says, “depending upon the ecological nature of a nation and the number of species ‘available’ for the threat of extinction.

“If other species follow the same pattern as the mammals and birds in our study, then we are facing a serious threat to global biodiversity associated with our growing human population.”


Contact: Jeffrey McKee, (614) 292-4149; mckee.95@osu.edu
Written by Earle Holland, (614) 292-8384; Holland.8@osu.edu

Jeffrey McKee | Ohio State University
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu/researchnews/archive/specgone.htm
http://www.redlist.org/
http://www.census.gov/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>