Top factors that cause the extinction

We have mentioned several times the word extinction, but we haven’t honestly talked about the causes of it. Of all the species that have lived since the beginning of days, more than 99 percent are now extinct, and part of the remaining species are endangered. Why?

As time goes by, more and more plants and animals are on the verge of extinction because of different factors, and as you might know, humans are one of the biggest threats to the planet. Extinctions have happened numerous times throughout our history and they were caused by natural events like volcanic eruptions. Nowadays the situation has changed and the factors are not only natural. Here you have the top causes of our current extinctions:

  1. Overhunting. The Homo sapiens have been on the planet approximately the last 50 thousand years. We can’t blame our race for all the extinctions, but we can definitely say that humans have been fundamental to today’s ecological havoc. The hunting of the fur, organs, the ivory of elephants, sharks, baby bears, monkeys, etc. are just some examples of the human predation. Live animals have been sold to people that desire an exotic animal as pets or for medical research. Even the legal hunting is affecting the species lead it them to become endangered.
  2. Habitat destruction. It is currently the number one cause of the existing extinctions. Today, more than 13 million hectares of forest have been destroyed causing the death of many species. Deforestation has ended an uncountable amount of our ecosystem and is still affecting a big part of our planet. Every living organism needs a place to live where he can find the food and allows the procreation. Humans are destroying habitats in different ways: buildings, clearing forests, paving over meadows, draining rivers, and more.
  3. Pollution. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, petroleum, sulfur dioxide and others chemicals are interfering with the balance of nature. Species are unable to cope with those contaminants and they’re dying because of it.
  4. Climate change. As all we may know, climate change is a constant danger to all the species of the earth. The past years we have lived so many variations of our environment that are affecting the planet and all the living organisms considerably. The winter is colder than ever, and the summer is hotter. We have hasty weather changes that are not supposed to happen and we all can appreciate that’s something is happening and we should take actions to prevent fatal consequences.

If the world was more informed about what is happening and instead of destroying environments we join together to recover our planet, we might succeed. Extinctions of species affects us all and is getting worse. Of course, it’s fair to say that extinctions can happen without human intrusion because they’re part of evolution but we’re contributing enormously in the process making everything worse.

Extinction is forever. We’re losing biodiversity and is a massive threat to humanity.

Plausible Sightings of Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Sparks Search in Queensland

Zoologists in Queensland are in a tizzy. It seems that plausible possible sightings of a Tasmanian tiger in Northern Queensland has triggered scientists to undertake a search for the species long thought to have died out more than 80 years ago.

The last Tasmanian tiger was thought to have died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. It was also widely believed to have become extinct on mainland Australia at least 2,000 years ago. As of late, sightings of some large dog-like animals that are neither dingoes nor foxes have spiked in the recent decades despite the common skepticism that surrounded the accounts.

It was the recent eyewitness accounts of potential thylacines in the far Northern Queensland that became the catalyst for scientists from James Cook University to launch a search for the animal.

It is Professor Bill Laurance said that he had spoken, at some length, with two people about the animals they had seen in Cape York peninsula that could potentially be Tasmanian tigers. The accounts of the sightings were quite plausible as the descriptions of the animals were quite detailed.

One was a long standing employee of the Queensland National Park Services and the other was a frequent camper in the north of the state. The professor said all the potential sightings to date had been at night. “In one case, four animals were observed at close rage–about 20 feet away–with a spotlight.”

The detailed descriptions of the eyes, shape, and behavior were inconsistent with the known attributes of other large species in the north Queensland. The common animals in the area are dingoes, wild dogs, or feral pigs.

The sightings occurred at two separate locations on the Cape York peninsula but the specific details of the locations are being kept confidential. “Everything is being handled with strict confidence,” says Laurance.

He mentioned people who claimed to have seen a thylacine were “quite nervous about relating their tales for fear of being branded kooks or fringe types”.

Even English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author, Richard Dawkins has tweeted hopefully regarding news of the study. “Can it be true? Has Thylacinus been seen alive? And in mainland Australia not Tasmania? I so want it to be true.”

Sandra Abell, a researcher with James Cook University’s Center for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science who was leading the field survey has said that they had been contacted with more possible sightings since their intentions were made known to the public. She was in the process of deciding on sites for more than 50 cameras that will be set up on Cape York peninsula. Their target date shall be at the onset of the dry season in April or May.

Abell also said even if a thylacine was not detected, the survey would inform the center’s understanding of the status of rare and endangered mammal species on the peninsula. It seems that several mammals, including the northern bettong, were at risk from introduced predators.

“It is a low possibility that we’ll find thylacines, but we’ll certainly get lots of data on the predators in the area and that will help our studies in general,” she said.  It was “not impossible” there were thylacines to be found. “It is not a mythical creature. A lot of descriptions people give, it’s not a glimpse in the car headlights. People who say they’ve actually seen them can describe them in great detail–so it’s hard to say they’ve seen anything else. I’m not ruling it out at all, but to actually get them on camera will be incredibly lucky.”

We’re all hoping the rediscovery of a thriving Tasmanian tiger, aren’t you?

Some Animal Species Declared Extinct in 2016

It’s no secret that our planet has become increasingly uninhabitable over the last hundred years. There are several factors that contribute to this: industrialization, overpopulation, the inherent disassociation of people with the problems they’re causing, etc.

Not everything seemed so bleak with several communities of people gathering for the sake of protecting animals species that were nearing extinction. There have some degrees of success. The beloved Giant Panda of China is no longer considered to be endangered. Despite this, other organizations that aim to protect endangered species  seem to be fighting a losing battle. Sadly, in 2016, there were several animals that went extinct. We list them here today.

Two species of Bettongs

Bettongs are these tiny rodent-like marsupials are commonly called rat-kangaroos that are indigenous to Australia. Two species of Bettongs were officially declared extinct in 2016:

Nullabor Dwarf Bettong

The Nullabor Dwarf Bettong (Bettongia pusilla) was a species of Bettong that was endemic to the Nullabor Plain in Western Australia. It is known only from subfossil material but is considered to have been extant at European settlement.

Desert Bettong

Scientifically known as Bettongia anhydra. It was originally described as a subspecies of B. pencillata, the Desert Bettong was only recently recognized as a full species. Sadly, it was not fully known how abundant this species was before its extinction. It was thought to have been driven to extinction because of predators that were introduced to its habitat like Red Foxes and feral domestic cats.

Lesser Stick-nest Rat

The last two specimens of Lesser Stick-nest Rat (Leporillus apicalis) were collected near Mt. Crombie, Australia in July 1933. Stick-nest Rats constructed large nests of sticks and sometimes stones, depending on available construction materials. Some remaining in caves in breakaways in the Gibson Desert and near the Finke stock route in the southern Northern Territory are more than 3 m by 2 m by 1 m high.

The construction of stick-nests shows that shelter was important; the nests probably provided an ameliorated microclimate and some protection from predators. A nest may have sheltered several individuals, with records of up to ten in a nest. However, there were several records of events where the nests were burned–although the reason for this is unclear.

Ridley’s Stick Insect

The oddly named Ridley’s Stick Insect (Pseudobactricia ridleyi) was native to Singapore. With Singapore’s massive industrialization spike, most of its forest has been removed. Ridley’s Stick Insect is known from just one specimen collected in Singapore more than 100 years ago. As almost all natural forest in Singapore has since been cleared, extensive searches of the remaining forest have failed to reveal any more specimens of this species, genus or subfamily. Exhaustive surveys have also been carried out in neighboring countries which have failed to reveal any evidence of the species.

Contomastix Charrua

This is a small lizard that lived on the small island of Cabo Polonio, Paraguay. It seems to have met its extinction because of the massive increase of human settlement on the island. While there is some discussion over whether or not it may just be a color variant of the Contomastix lacertoides, there hasn’t been any new specimens found to develop conclusive findings.

What the Paris Agreement Can Do For Our Fish Stock

In recent decades, our planet’s temperature has been rising, bringing with it some pretty disastrous consequences. Sea levels rise and species of marine wildlife have been dislocated. Climate change is expected to force fish and other species to migrate toward cooler waters. The sheer number of species of fish caught in different parts of the world will impact local fishers where such species are usually found. This will make fishery management to become increasingly difficult as the temperatures continue to rise.

Thomas Frölicher, a principal investigator at the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program and senior scientist at ETH Zürich, has said that changes in ocean conditions that affect fish stocks, like temperature and oxygen concentration, are primarily related to atmospheric warming and carbon emissions. He also stated that for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, the maximum catch potential decreases by a significant amount.

This is a crucial point that should come up whenever the Paris Agreement is discussed. The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concerning greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020. If countries abide by the Paris Agreement global warming target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, our fish stock and fish catches could increase by six million metric tons per year.

Studies wherein the Paris Agreement 1.5C scenario was compared to the currently pledged 3.5C found the simulated changes to be quite drastic. The results showed that for every degree Celsius decrease in global warming, the potential fish catches all around the world could increase more than three metric million tons per year. Previous researches reflected that today’s global fish catch is roughly 110 million metric tons. So obviously, we can only gain by doing solid actions to insure this goal now.

Initial studies regarding the Paris Agreement suggest that the Indo-Pacific area will more than likely see a 40% increase in fishery catches at a 1.5C warming rather than at 3.5C. The Arctic region would have a greater influx of fish under the 3.5C scenario but will lose more sea ice and face pressure to expand fisheries.

The sheer number of the projected yield should ideally be more than enough incentive for countries and the private sector to substantially increase their commitments and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We all need to work on this together—if even just one country opts out of the Paris Agreement, there will be a clear reduction of the otherwise global positive effects we should all be getting.

Our population is only climbing higher and we’re running out of resources to reasonably sustain us all. Some oceans are more sensitive to changes in temperature and will have substantially larger gains from the Paris Agreement. Tropical areas are among the places where in the most yield increase will be felt. This is quite a significant point for them to consider given that tropical areas are those who are highly dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.

If we want to continue to enjoy living on this blue globe of ours as the dominant species, we need to ensure that our descendants should have their share of continued food and fair temperature.

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