Sixth Mass Extinction Event

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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#51

Post by Volkonski » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:37 am

Turns out we humans have been in the extinction business for a long time. :(

New Study Says Ancient Humans Hunted Big Mammals To Extinction

http://www.wbur.org/npr/604031141/new-s ... extinction
Being big was just as successful as being small, and had some advantages when it came to surviving big predators. "Taken as a whole, over 65 million years, being large did not increase mammals' extinction risk. But it did when humans were involved," Smith found.

Looking back over the most recent 125,000 years of the fossil record, Smith found that when humans arrived someplace, the rate of extinction for big mammals rose. She says it basically came down to hunger. "Certainly humans exploit large game," she says, "probably because they are tasty"--and because a bigger animal makes for a bigger meal.

But humans did other things besides hunting that hastened the disappearance of big mammals. They burned forests and grasslands that big mammals used. They competed with the big carnivores for game. They brought dogs with them that made them better hunters.

:snippity:

We still have lots of furry little mammals on the planet. But the pattern is clear: 11,000 years ago, the average mass of a non-human mammal in North America was about 200 pounds. Now it's about 15 pounds. And the researchers say they're getting even smaller.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#52

Post by Volkonski » Sat Apr 28, 2018 1:35 pm


The New York Times

@nytimes
Opinion: Two scientists write that "a worldwide catastrophe is underway among an extraordinary group of birds." https://nyti.ms/2HyrGuH

12:16 PM - Apr 28, 2018
Shorebirds, the World’s Greatest Travelers, Face Extinction

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... ogin-email
A worldwide catastrophe is underway among an extraordinary group of birds — the marathon migrants we know as shorebirds. Numbers of some species are falling so quickly that many biologists fear an imminent planet-wide wave of extinctions.

These declines represent the No. 1 conservation crisis facing birds in the world today. Climate change, coastal development, the destruction of wetlands and hunting are all culprits. And because these birds depend for their survival, as we do, on the shorelines of oceans, estuaries, rivers, lakes, lagoons and marshes, their declines point to a systemic crisis that demands our attention, for our own good.

No doubt you’ve seen some of these birds while on vacation at the beach, skittering back and forth along the cusp of waves as they peck with their long beaks for tiny sand flies or the eggs of horseshoe crabs. They can seem comic in their frenetic exertions, tiny Charlie Chaplins in bird suits.

:snippity:

Populations of all three of these shorebirds are crashing. Since 1974, pectoral sandpipers have declined by more than 50 percent, and Hudsonian godwits have declined by more than 70 percent. The bar-tailed godwit may have lost half its global population within just the past few decades.
Shorebird populations are declining worldwide.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#53

Post by Volkonski » Sat Apr 28, 2018 3:10 pm

A rare bit of good news. :)


Center for Bio Div
@CenterForBioDiv
The population of critically endangered Amur leopards in Russia has more than tripled since the turn of the century due to hard conservation work to preserve the species. http://ow.ly/9aUB50hcfVu

12:05 PM - Apr 28, 2018
However it is concerning that truly heroic efforts have only managed to get the population up to 103. :?


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#54

Post by Volkonski » Mon May 21, 2018 3:25 pm

This is disturbing.The article mentions that we are at the start of the Sixth Mass Extinction Event.


The Guardian

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Human race just 0.01% of all life but has destroyed over 80% of wild mammals – study

2:07 PM - 21 May 2018
The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The new work is the first comprehensive estimate of the weight of every class of living creature and overturns some long-held assumptions. Bacteria are indeed a major life form – 13% of everything – but plants overshadow everything, representing 82% of all living matter. All other creatures, from insects to fungi, to fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.

:snippity:

The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.

:snippity:

The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in the start of what many scientists consider the sixth mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s four billion year history. About half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#55

Post by TollandRCR » Mon May 21, 2018 4:16 pm

This is measured in terms of biomass? The most frequent life is also the smallest life. E O Wilson’s observation about nematodes always impressed me: if everything else about the Earth vanished, you could still see the ghost of the continents in the nematodes.

It would be interesting to see the same ratios in numbers of species and in numbers of individuals. The latter would require many zeroes for humans.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#56

Post by Volkonski » Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:44 pm

There may be as few as 15 vaquitas left. :(

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/spe ... gn=vaquita
In May 2017, with the vaquita population having declined by 90 percent over the last five years, the Center and allies petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to ban imports of seafood caught with gillnets in Mexico's Upper Gulf of California, in order to save the porpoise from looming extinction.

The pressure is on both the United States and Mexico to heed the call to save the vaquita before this tiny cetacean disappears forever.
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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#57

Post by Fortinbras » Mon Jul 30, 2018 3:24 am

With all the ugly Trump news, I am now looking forward to the Mass Extinction Event. After all the Earth is just a minor planet, and humans have managed to engineer their own extinction so maybe they are not the fittest to survive.

I just sit on my porch, waiting for the Four Horseman to gallop down my street.



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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#58

Post by Volkonski » Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:45 am


The New York Times

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A giant colony of 500,000 breeding pairs of king penguins has lost 90% of its population since 1982, according to a new study https://nyti.ms/2OA3kjX

11:29 AM - Aug 2, 2018
Largest King Penguin Colony in the World Drops by 90%
The colony of 500,000 breeding pairs, long considered the largest of king penguins in the world, lived on the Île aux Cochons (or, less elegantly, Pig Island), a French territory in the Crozet archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean between South Africa and Antarctica.

But the penguins haven’t been counted in person since 1982 when researchers last visited. In late 2016, researchers flew over it by helicopter and saw noticeably fewer penguins than expected.

Since then, by closely examining three decades of satellite images, researchers have concluded that there are just 60,000 breeding pairs left on the island.

:snippity:

King penguins are second-largest in size after emperor penguins. They don’t nest, but lay one egg and parents take turns incubating the egg with an abdominal layer called a brood patch for two months. King penguins leave their young and swim south to forage for fish and squid in the waters of the Antarctic polar front, where cold, deep water mixes with more temperate seas. If they can’t reach this polar front and can’t swim back within about a week, their chicks will starve to death.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#59

Post by Volkonski » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:45 am

There are only 75 of these orcas left. :( Not enough salmon. Too many dams divert too much fresh water to farmers. Trump. :madguy:

Washington's last chance to save the endangered orcas – but is it too late?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... CMP=twt_gu
Deafened by sonar and boat noise, they hunt for fish that are too few in number. With each Chinook salmon they catch, they poison themselves a bit more; pollution in the Pacific accumulates at the top of the food pyramid. And their calves are dying.

Three years have passed since an orca calf born in the region survived. In the past 20 years, 40 orcas have been born into the group while 72 have died.

If enough salmon can be hatched and grown fat, if enough boats can be quieted, if the water and land can be cleansed, Seattle’s orcas might just survive. That is the hope.

The fear is that this final opportunity to save the orcas will be blown. Or worse,that the opportunity has already passed.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#60

Post by Fortinbras » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:55 pm

Evidently the extinction will kill off the humans early, and once the humans are gone there's a distinct possibility that the the earth will cool, the air and water will clear, and in a century or two things will be back to normal, absent the most dangerous and destructive species.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/p ... ge-709470/



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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#61

Post by Foggy » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:55 pm

No thanks, I'm planning to evolve some more. :blink:


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#62

Post by Volkonski » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:28 pm

Number of monarch butterflies in California declined by 86 percent in one year

https://www.seattlepi.com/science/artic ... 507308.php
The group's most recent count, over Thanksgiving weekend, recorded less than 30,000 butterflies — an 86-percent decline since 2017 alone.

Researchers with the group called the number "disturbingly low" and potentially "catastrophic," in a statement.

The population of western monarchs in California was already low before the most recent count, having declined by an estimated 97 percent since the 1980s. The species will likely go extinct in the next few decades if nothing is done to save them, a 2017 study by Washington State University researchers found.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#63

Post by Volkonski » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:38 pm

Totoaba (a large drum fish) and vaquitas (small porpoises) live only in the Gulf of California. Both are critically endangered.

In 1997 there were about 600 vaquitas. Now there are fewer than 20 left.

What happened? Soup. Fish bladder soup is a delicacy in Asia. Several years ago when the yellow croaker fish which supplied bladders for soup began to die off bladders from totaba became a hot item. A single bladder can fetch $10,000. This caused illegal gill net fishing in the Gulf of California. Vaquitas get caught in the nets and drown.

Totoaba bladders are smuggled into the USA from where they are shipped to Asia.

In the last year 800 illegal gill nets were removed from the Gulf. But despite the efforts of the police and the Mexican Navy illegal fishing continues.

https://porpoise.org/save-the-vaquita/? ... pVEALw_wcB



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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#64

Post by tencats » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:34 pm

Volkonski wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:28 pm
Number of monarch butterflies in California declined by 86 percent in one year

https://www.seattlepi.com/science/artic ... 507308.php
The group's most recent count, over Thanksgiving weekend, recorded less than 30,000 butterflies — an 86-percent decline since 2017 alone.

Researchers with the group called the number "disturbingly low" and potentially "catastrophic," in a statement.

The population of western monarchs in California was already low before the most recent count, having declined by an estimated 97 percent since the 1980s. The species will likely go extinct in the next few decades if nothing is done to save them, a 2017 study by Washington State University researchers found.
Monarch butterfly population wintering in Mexico increases 144%
Associated Press in Mexico City
Wed 30 Jan 2019 16.28 EST
The population of monarch butterflies wintering in central Mexico is up 144% over last year, according to new research.

The data was cheered but scientists quickly warned that it does not mean the butterflies that migrate from Canada and the United States are out of danger.

This winter, researchers found the butterflies occupying 14.95 acres (6.05 hectares) of pine and fir forests in the mountains of Michoacán and Mexico states – an increase from 6.12 acres a year ago.

This year’s is the biggest measurement since the 2006-2007 period
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... n-increase



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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#65

Post by RVInit » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:54 pm

how you can help monarch butterflies

https://www.monarchwatch.org/


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#66

Post by Volkonski » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:21 pm

Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... 1549824581
More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#67

Post by Volkonski » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:02 pm

I think I see a pattern. :(

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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#68

Post by Volkonski » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:48 pm

Biomass of mammals on Earth as of 2018

Livestock, mostly cattle and pigs (60%)

Humans (36%)

Wild animals (4%)

And-

Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... mals-study
The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The new work is the first comprehensive estimate of the weight of every class of living creature and overturns some long-held assumptions. Bacteria are indeed a major life form – 13% of everything – but plants overshadow everything, representing 82% of all living matter. All other creatures, from insects to fungi, to fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.

Another surprise is that the teeming life revealed in the oceans by the recent BBC television series Blue Planet II turns out to represent just 1% of all biomass. The vast majority of life is land-based and a large chunk – an eighth – is bacteria buried deep below the surface.


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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#69

Post by tencats » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:26 pm

Insect decline may see 'plague of pests'

Houseflies and cockroaches will thrive as bees, butterflies and beetles decline, says a new analysis.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47198576

:snippity: While some of our most important insect species are in retreat, the review also finds that a small number of species are likely to be able to adapt to changing conditions and do well.

"Fast-breeding pest insects will probably thrive because of the warmer conditions, because many of their natural enemies, which breed more slowly, will disappear, " said Prof Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex who was not involved in the review.

"It's quite plausible that we might end up with plagues of small numbers of pest insects, but we will lose all the wonderful ones that we want, like bees and hoverflies and butterflies and dung beetles that do a great job of disposing of animal waste."

Prof Goulson said that some tough, adaptable, generalist species - like houseflies and cockroaches - seem to be able to live comfortably in a human-made environment and have evolved resistance to pesticides.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47198576



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Re: Sixth Mass Extinction Event

#70

Post by Volkonski » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:42 pm

tencats wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:26 pm
Insect decline may see 'plague of pests'

Houseflies and cockroaches will thrive as bees, butterflies and beetles decline, says a new analysis.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47198576

:snippity: While some of our most important insect species are in retreat, the review also finds that a small number of species are likely to be able to adapt to changing conditions and do well.

"Fast-breeding pest insects will probably thrive because of the warmer conditions, because many of their natural enemies, which breed more slowly, will disappear, " said Prof Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex who was not involved in the review.

"It's quite plausible that we might end up with plagues of small numbers of pest insects, but we will lose all the wonderful ones that we want, like bees and hoverflies and butterflies and dung beetles that do a great job of disposing of animal waste."

Prof Goulson said that some tough, adaptable, generalist species - like houseflies and cockroaches - seem to be able to live comfortably in a human-made environment and have evolved resistance to pesticides.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47198576
We will have to train house flies to pollinate and cockroaches to eat dung.


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