A History Of Life On Earth - third edition

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It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century [ 2 ]. The Trump administration just ripped apart the Endangered Species Act. We need your help fighting back.

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Species diversity ensures ecosystem resilience, giving ecological communities the scope they need to withstand stress. Thus while conservationists often justifiably focus their efforts on species-rich ecosystems like rainforests and coral reefs — which have a lot to lose — a comprehensive strategy for saving biodiversity must also include habitat types with fewer species, like grasslands, tundra, and polar seas — for which any loss could be irreversibly devastating.

And while much concern over extinction focuses on globally lost species, most of biodiversity's benefits take place at a local level, and conserving local populations is the only way to ensure genetic diversity critical for a species' long-term survival.


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Scientists estimate that a third or more of all the roughly 6, known species of amphibians are at risk of extinction [ 6 ]. The current amphibian extinction rate may range from 25, to 45, times the background extinction rate [ 7 ].

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Frogs, toads, and salamanders are disappearing because of habitat loss, water and air pollution, climate change, ultraviolet light exposure, introduced exotic species, and disease. Because of their sensitivity to environmental changes, vanishing amphibians should be viewed as the canary in the global coal mine, signaling subtle yet radical ecosystem changes that could ultimately claim many other species, including humans.

BIRDS Birds occur in nearly every habitat on the planet and are often the most visible and familiar wildlife to people across the globe. As such, they provide an important bellwether for tracking changes to the biosphere. Declining bird populations across most to all habitats confirm that profound changes are occurring on our planet in response to human activities. A report on the state of birds in the United States found that 31 percent of the species in the country are of conservation concern [ 8 ]. Habitat loss and degradation have caused most of the bird declines, but the impacts of invasive species and capture by collectors play a big role, too.

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FISH Increasing demand for water, the damming of rivers throughout the world, the dumping and accumulation of various pollutants, and invasive species make aquatic ecosystems some of the most threatened on the planet; thus, it's not surprising that there are many fish species that are endangered in both freshwater and marine habitats. The American Fisheries Society identified species of freshwater or anadromous fish in North America as being imperiled, amounting to 39 percent of all such fish on the continent [ 9 ].

In North American marine waters, at least 82 fish species are imperiled. Of the 1. Freshwater invertebrates are severely threatened by water pollution, groundwater withdrawal, and water projects, while a large number of invertebrates of notable scientific significance have become either endangered or extinct due to deforestation, especially because of the rapid destruction of tropical rainforests.

In the ocean, reef-building corals are declining at an alarming rate: 's first-ever comprehensive global assessment of these animals revealed that a third of reef-building corals are threatened. MAMMALS Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the present extinction crisis is the fact that the majority of our closest relatives — the primates — are severely endangered. About 90 percent of primates — the group that contains monkeys, lemurs, lorids, galagos, tarsiers, and apes as well as humans — live in tropical forests, which are fast disappearing. The IUCN estimates that almost 50 percent of the world's primate species are at risk of extinction.

Overall, the IUCN estimates that half the globe's 5, known mammals are declining in population and a fifth are clearly at risk of disappearing forever with no less than 1, mammals across the globe classified as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. Advanced Search. Logged In As. Find More.

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F87 Place Hold. Add To List. Douglas Futuyma presents an overview of current thinking on theories of evolution, aimed at an undergraduate audience.

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