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      Global State of Biodiversity and Loss

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      Annual Review of Environment and Resources

      Annual Reviews

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          Abstract

          Biodiversity, a central component of Earth's life support systems, is directly relevant to human societies. We examine the dimensions and nature of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity and review the scientific facts concerning the rate of loss of biodiversity and the drivers of this loss. The estimate for the total number of species of eukaryotic organisms possible lies in the 5�15 million range, with a best guess of ~7 million. Species diversity is unevenly distributed; the highest concentrations are in tropical ecosystems. Endemisms are concentrated in a few hotspots, which are in turn seriously threatened by habitat destruction�the most prominent driver of biodiversity loss. For the past 300 years, recorded extinctions for a few groups of organisms reveal rates of extinction at least several hundred times the rate expected on the basis of the geological record. The loss of biodiversity is the only truly irreversible global environmental change the Earth faces today.

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          Most cited references 41

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          The future of biodiversity.

          Recent extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times their pre-human levels in well-known, but taxonomically diverse groups from widely different environments. If all species currently deemed "threatened" become extinct in the next century, then future extinction rates will be 10 times recent rates. Some threatened species will survive the century, but many species not now threatened will succumb. Regions rich in species found only within them (endemics) dominate the global patterns of extinction. Although new technology provides details of habitat losses, estimates of future extinctions are hampered by our limited knowledge of which areas are rich in endemics.
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            Mammal population losses and the extinction crisis.

            The disappearance of populations is a prelude to species extinction. No geographically explicit estimates have been made of current population losses of major indicator taxa. Here we compare historic and present distributions of 173 declining mammal species from six continents. These species have collectively lost over 50% of their historic range area, mostly where human activities are intensive. This implies a serious loss of ecosystem services and goods. It also signals a substantial threat to species diversity.
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              Taxonomic Diversity during the Phanerozoic.

               D Raup (1972)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Environment and Resources
                Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour.
                Annual Reviews
                1543-5938
                1545-2050
                November 2003
                November 2003
                : 28
                : 1
                : 137-167
                Article
                10.1146/annurev.energy.28.050302.105532
                © 2003

                Evolutionary Biology

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