Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Endangered species list more bleak than originally thought

10.09.2004


The global extinction crisis ignores thousands of affiliated species that are also at risk of being wiped out, making the list of endangered species much larger and more serious than originally thought, says a study produced in part at the University of Alberta.



"What we found is that with the extinction of a bird, or a mammal or a plant, you aren’t just necessarily wiping out just one, single species," said Dr. Heather Proctor from the U of A’s Department of Biological Sciences. "We’re also allowing all these unsung dependent species to be wiped out as well."

Proctor and a research team lead by Lian Pin Koh of the National University of Singapore and Robert Dunn from the University of Tennessee, calculated the expected levels of co-extinction across a diverse selection of host and associate systems. Their research is published in the current edition of the prestigious journal, "Science."


The team first compiled a list of 12,200 plants and animals currently listed as threatened or endangered. They then looked at the diverse selection of insects, mites, fungi and other organisms that are uniquely adapted to the threatened host. The researchers found that at least 200 affiliate species have already been lost through co-extinction and that a further 6300 should be classified as "co-endangered."

"What we wanted to learn was, if the host goes extinct, how many other species will go with it," said Proctor. "It would be easy if there were always a one-to-one relationship with a host and its affiliate; however, not all parasites, for example, are restricted to a single host species. The trick was in trying to determine how many other species could act as hosts and factoring that degree of dependence into the study."

The researchers believe these processes have been largely overlooked in the past because some of the most susceptible organisms are uncharismatic parasites, but other more popular animals are also at stake.

Proctor cites a host plant vine that became locally extinct in Singapore, taking along with it a species of butterfly, Parantica aspasia, that was dependent on the vine for survival. "When we lose this vine, this beautiful butterfly dies off with it, and we’ll never see it again except in photographs at museums," said Proctor. "And when that happens, it can never be recovered."

While this new research has implications for theoreticians who calculate endangered species, the moral issue is even more significant and should suggest more efforts to maintain the original species, said Proctor. The loss of species through co-extinction represents the loss of irreplaceable evolution and co-evolutionary history, say the researchers, and should have immediate implications for local conservation and management decisions.

Phoebe Dey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Stiffness matters
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Separate brain systems cooperate during learning, study finds
22.02.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>