Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Earth In Midst Of Sixth Mass Extinction

As I said in an earlier post - I will admit, it wouldn't bother me if dodder (which I found in my garden once, with its suckers in my flowers) became extinct, although I also don't have a wish for it to become extinct, because I have only ever seen it that once, and I used to hike regularly in the woods.
Fleas, definitely on the please go extinct list! Not cockroaches, because they might be needed to help higher life continue, and re-evolve, and that's not a joke, at least not entirely.

Earth In Midst Of Sixth Mass Extinction: 50% Of All Species Disappearing

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2008) — The Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of both plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing, scientists say.

Because of the current crisis, biologists at UC Santa Barbara are working day and night to determine which species must be saved. Their international study of grassland ecosystems, with flowering plants, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The current extinction event is due to human activity, paving the planet, creating pollution, many of the things that we are doing today," said co-author Bradley J. Cardinale, assistant professor of ecology, evolution and marine biology (EEMB) at UC Santa Barbara. "The Earth might well lose half of its species in our lifetime. We want to know which ones deserve the highest priority for conservation."

He explained that the last mass extinction near the current level was 65 million years ago, called the Cretaceous Tertiary extinction event, and was probably the result of a meteor hitting the Earth. It is best known for the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, but massive amounts of plant species became extinct at that time as well.

According to the current study, the most genetically unique species are the ones that have the greatest importance in an ecosystem. These are the ones that the scientists recommend be listed as top priority for conservation.
"These 40 studies are showing the same thing for all plants around the world," said Cardinale. "It is not a willy-nilly conclusion. This study is very robust. It includes studies of plants that are found throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. We can have a high degree of confidence in the results. And the results show that genetic diversity predicts whether or not species matter."

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