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

Defaunation in the Anthropocene.

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


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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