Defaunation in the Anthropocene

Dirzo, Rodolfo; Young, Hillary S.; Galetti, Mauro; Ceballos, Gerardo; Isaac, Nick J.B.; Collen, Ben. 2014 Defaunation in the Anthropocene. Science, 345 (6195). 401-406.

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We live amidst a global wave of anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss: species and population extirpations and also, critically, declines in local abundance of species. Human impacts on animal biodiversity, particularly, are an under-recognized form of global environmental change. Among terrestrial vertebrates an estimated 322 species have recently become extinct, while populations of the remaining species show a 25% average decline in abundance. Invertebrate patterns are equally dire: 67% of monitored populations show a 45% mean decline in abundance. Such defaunation will have broad cascading effects on ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Much remains unknown about this “Anthropocene defaunation”, and these knowledge gaps hinder our capacity to predict and limit its impacts. Clearly, however, defaunation will become not only a characteristic of the planet’s sixth mass extinction, but also a driver of global ecological change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0036-8075
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 24 Sep 2014 15:38 +0 (UTC)

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