November 28, 2008

Rates of species extinction

In a very interesting paper on priority-setting in biological conservation, Madeleine C. Bottrill and coauthors write:
Human-induced extinction rates are up to 1000 times the natural extinction rate and [recent progress] to reduce significantly the rate of extinction has been limited.
This is an inaccurate summary of the two studies they cite in this context (S.L. Pimm et al., 1995, The future of biodiversity, Science 269, pp. 347–350; European Environment Agency, 2007, Europe’s Environment: The Fourth Assessment). An alternative, and also inaccurate, summary would be:
Human-induced extinction rates of rare birds in remote Pacific islands has been up to 1000 times the natural extinction rate of abundant and geographically widespread marine invertebrates, and recent progress to improve the status of endangered species in Europe has been limited.

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