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The Definition and Causes

What is Extinction?
Extinction occurs when the last existing

member of a given species dies

In other wordsthere arent any more left!

It is a scientific certainty when there are

not any surviving individuals left to reproduce Functional Extinction

Only a handful of individuals are left Odds of reproduction are slim

Causes of Extinction
Genetics and Demographics

Small populations = increased risk Mutations

Causes a flux in natural selection Beneficial genetic traits are overruled

Loss of Genetic Diversity

Shallow gene pools promote massive inbreeding

Causes Cont.
Habitat Degradation

One of the most influential Has many causes Some due to humans Some due to other factors

Habitat Degradation

Kills off species directly through food/water Indirectly via sterilization Can occur in short spans (a single generation) Can occur over several generations
Increasing toxicity Increasing competition for habitat resources

Habitat Degradation
Destruction of Habitat

Save the Rainforests! Elimination of living space Change in habitat

Rainforest to pasture lands

Leads to diminishing resources

Increases competition

Can be caused by natural processes

Volcanoes, floods, drought, etc

Causes Cont.

Competition Disease

Coextinction Mass Extinction Planned Extinction

Introduction of predators

Invasive alien species Transported by humans

Cattle, rats, zebra muscles, etc Sometimes on purpose, sometimes not

Can eat other species Eat food sources Introduce diseases

The loss of one species leads to the loss

of another Chain of extinction Can be caused by small impacts in the beginning A predator looses its food source Affected by interconnectedness in nature

Mass Extinction
Aka: an extinction event A sharp decrease in the number of

species on Earth in a short period of time Coincides with a sharp drop in speciation

The process by which new biological species arise Last one was 65M years ago

There have been at least 5

Mass Extinction Diagram

Mass Extinction
Nearly 2/3rds (or more) of all animal

species that ever existed on the planet are now gone.

With contemporary extinction being attributed to HUMAN activity.

Numerous factors go into the extinction of

a specific species.
Though all point the finger to climate change.

Mass Extinction
Began about three-million years ago

(Continental Glaciations).

Hypotheses for initial extinction:

Sea level depletion vs. Temperature decrease

Though these hypotheses arent mutually

exclusive, they may have conspired together.

Mass Extinctions
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction (65). End Triassic Extinction (200). Permian Triassic Extinction (250). Late Devonian Extinction (364). Ordovician-Silurian Extinction (440). (#= millions of years ago)

Planned Extinction
Human controlled Thought of to help humans Deadly viruses

Extinct in the wild

Near extinct (only in small parts of the world)

Natural Causes of Extinction

Climatic Heating and Cooling

Changes in Sea Level or Currents

Causes complete

devastation Flattening and crater at or around impact sitehundreds of miles wide Reverberations felt around the world

Cosmic Radiation

Acid Rain
Kills acid intolerant


Can wipe out entire

species Frog with fungus disease Killing frogs and other amphibians

Spread of Invasive Species

Natural factors usually occur at a slower rate and therefore cause a low extinction rate. Human activities occur at a faster rate and cause higher extinction rates. Human activities are mostly responsible for the present extinction rates.

Human Causes of Extinction

Top Human Causes of Extinction: Increased human population Destruction/Fragmentation of habitat Pollution Climate change/Global warming

Extinctions caused by humans are generally considered to be a recent phenomena. HOWEVER:

In Australiaearliest humans: 64,000 years ago

extinction30,000-60,000 years ago

In the Americas80% of large animals became

extinct around the same time as first human presence there

Based on these, and other studies done by The international Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), human induced extinctions are not necessarily a new phenomena. However, extinction by humans today is becoming much more rapid.

The rapid loss of species today is estimated by some experts to be between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate, while others estimate rates as high as 1,000-11,000 times higher.

Habitat Degradation
Habitat loss and degradation affect 86% of all threatened birds, 86% of mammals and 88% of threatened amphibians

Climate change/Global Warming

John W. Williams from UW-Madison suggests that changes in regions such as the Peruvian Andes, portions of the Himalayas and southern Australia could have a profound impact on indigenous plants and animals Williams and his research partners used computer models to estimate how various parts of the world would be affected by regional changes consistent with the IPCC's climate models. Their findings indicated that By the end of the 21st century, large portions of the Earths surface may experience climates not found at present and some 2th century climates may disappear.

Their studies also suggest isolated climates such as the Peruvian Andes could change drastically enough to lead to species extinctions. The climate change might also create new climates, providing new opportunities for other species to thrive, Williams said.

Regions where novel climates are expected to form in tropical and subtropical regions include the western Sahara, southeastern U.S. and eastern India.

Extinction Hotspots

Where and what are hotspots?

The concept of biodiversity hotspots was penned by British ecologist Norman Myers in 1988 as a means to address the dilemma of identifying the areas most important for preserving species. (national geographic) Hotspots are included in 6 continents excluding Antarctica. Hotspots are heavily distributed along shore lines and near the equator.

Hotspots are effected by many factors


Logging Agriculture Hunting Climate change Government

Hotspots can be added and removed from

the classification of hotspot by what recovery or lack of prevention is taking place in each area.

What is required to be considered a hotspot

The region must support at least 1,500

plant species found nowhere else in the world, and it must have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat.

Interactive maps

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variation of taxonomic life forms for a given biome or ecosystem Boosts Ecosystem productivity Measure of the health of a biological system

Benefits of Biodiversity
Food and drink Medicines Industrial materials Ecological services Leisurely, cultural, and aesthetic values

Causes of Biodiversity Loss

Pollution Loss of tropical forest Spread of urban areas Warfare Large dam construction Road building Tourism Loss of traditional lifestyles

Consequences of Biodiversity Loss

Loss of food Decrease in biomass Collapse of food web Loss of keystone species Reduction of ecosystem efficiency and community productivity Loss of medicinal supplies Increased vulnerability of species to disease and predation

Monoculture of crops lets the yield


become susceptible to pests or viruses 75% of crop varieties are extinct Due to the spread of modern agriculture

Tropical Forest Cutting

Cover 13% of Earth Home to 50% of all known plant and animal species FAO reports 15.4 million hectares are destroyed annually

The Convention on Biological Diversity

Mission Statement The objectives of this convention are the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Since it was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, 189 countries have signed and implemented it. The United States signed it in 1993 but has yet to put it into action still today

The Convention on Biological Diversity

2010 Biodiversity Target
Members adopted a plan to significantly reduce the present rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level by the year 2010.


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