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  • A deer walks among the mountains of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Mar. 10, 2014.

    A deer walks among the mountains of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Mar. 10, 2014. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 March 2019
Opinion

Human-induced transformations of continental ecosystems will increase the risk of biodiversity loss further this century.

Human-induced changes to land will reduce the natural habitats of around 1,700 species of amphibians, birds and mammals by 2070, an environmental transformation that increases risk of extinctions, Nature Climate Change, a scientific publication, warned.

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According to Ryan Powers and Walter Jetz, two Yale University ecology scientists, land-use changes are bringing about ecosystem transformations which not only modify the species' current habitats but also contribute to changed ecological cycles globally. These global transformations in turn affect smaller ecosystems, generating a feedback loop that amplifies biodiversity loss.

“We used global decadal land-use projections to year 2070 for a range of shared socioeconomic pathways, which are linked to particular representative concentration pathways, to evaluate potential losses in range-wide suitable habitat and extinction risks for approximately 19,400 species of amphibians, birds and mammals,” Powers & Jetz article explains.

The report concludes that “substantial declines in suitable habitat are identified for species worldwide, with approximately 1,700 species expected to become imperilled due to land-use change alone.”

Their research specifies that, even assuming a moderate-change scenario of land use within the next 50 years, some 886 amphibians, 436 birds and 376 mammals will lose somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of their current habitats.

Among those at-risk species are the Lombok frog (Indonesia), the Nile lechwe (South Sudan), the clear-browed ticot (Brazil) and the straw curved peak (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay).

Beyond these particular cases, the species that live in Central and Eastern Africa, Mesoamerica, South America and Southeast Asia will suffer the greatest loss of habitat and are at greater risk of extinction.

"While it may seem that the erosion of biodiversity in distant parts of the planet does not directly affect us, its consequences for human livelihood can have global repercussions," explained Jetz.

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