Life on Earth is facing an extinction crisis that could be far worse than previously thought, according to two leading ecologists who have studied the rate at which animal populations are being lost.
The scientists have found that the geographical ranges of 173 species of mammals have declined, collectively, by more than 50 per cent over several decades, indicating a severe constriction of the animals’ breeding territories.
Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University in California and Gerardo Ceballos of Mexico University believe that the loss of viable breeding populations is a critical factor that has often been overlooked. The loss of species diversity has correctly attracted much attention from the general public and decision makers.
“It is now the job of the community of environmental scientists to give equal prominence to the issue of the loss of population diversity,” Professor Ehrlich said. “We are talking about nothing less than the preservation of human life-support systems. We neglect the issue at our peril.”