Biodiversity loss from species extinctions may rival pollution and climate change impacts

Earth Times reports: Species extinction and loss of biodiversity could be as devastating for the earth as climate change and air pollution. That’s the finding of a new study by a group of scientists from nine countries. The research aims for the first time to comprehensively compare the consequences of biodiversity loss with other possible environmental issues caused by humans.

Ecologist and University of Michigan assistant professor, Bradley Cardinale, who helped write the study, says, “Loss of biological diversity due to species extinctions is going to have major impacts on our planet, and we better prepare ourselves to deal with them. These extinctions may well rank as one of the top five drivers of global change.”

The study, which suggests that more moves must be made to strengthen biodiversity at all levels, has just been published online in the Nature journal.

Research conducted over the last 20 years has showed that production increases in ecosystems with the widest biodiversity. This raised worries that today’s high extinction rates from harvesting increases, habitat reduction and other environmental issues, could affect vital issues such as food production, pure water and a stable climate.

But until this study, it had been difficult to separate the effects due to the loss of biodiversity against problems caused by human activity.

Lead author of the research, David Hooper, a Western Washington University biologist, says it had been believed that the effects of biodiversity were minor, but the findings of the new study suggests that future species loss has as big an effect on reducing plant production as global warming and pollution.

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