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Science. 2014 Jul 25;345(6195):401-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1251817.

Defaunation in the Anthropocene.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. rdirzo@stanford.edu.
2
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.
3
Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, SP, 13506-900, Brazil.
4
Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, AP 70-275, México D.F. 04510, Mexico.
5
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK.
6
Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

Abstract

We live amid a global wave of anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss: species and population extirpations and, critically, declines in local species abundance. Particularly, human impacts on animal biodiversity are an under-recognized form of global environmental change. Among terrestrial vertebrates, 322 species have become extinct since 1500, and populations of the remaining species show 25% average decline in abundance. Invertebrate patterns are equally dire: 67% of monitored populations show 45% mean abundance decline. Such animal declines will cascade onto ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Much remains unknown about this "Anthropocene defaunation"; these knowledge gaps hinder our capacity to predict and limit defaunation impacts. Clearly, however, defaunation is both a pervasive component of the planet's sixth mass extinction and also a major driver of global ecological change.

PMID:
25061202
DOI:
10.1126/science.1251817
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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