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Tag: extinction

Size matters when it comes to extinction risk

Size matters when it comes to extinction risk

Science
The biggest and the smallest of the world's animals are most at risk of dying out, according to a new analysis.Size matters when it comes to extinction risk, with vertebrates in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" - not too big and not too small - winning out, say scientists.Action is needed to protect animals at both ends of the scale, they say.Heavyweights are threatened mainly by hunting, while featherweights are losing out to pollution and logging. "The largest vertebrates are mostly threatened by direct killing by humans," said a team led by Prof Bill Ripple of Oregon State University in Corvallis, US."Whereas the smallest species are more likely to have restricted geographic ranges - an important predictor of extinction risk - and be threatened by habitat degradation."The research adds t...
Scared to extinction: Fear is powerful enough to wipe out a species, study shows

Scared to extinction: Fear is powerful enough to wipe out a species, study shows

Science
July 24 (UPI) -- New research highlights the immense power of fear. The emotion was strong enough to curb eating and reproduction among groups of fruit flies, increasing the likelihood of extinction.Scientists at Canada's McGill University exposed fruit flies to a pheromone produced by praying mantises, one of the species main predators. The smell was enough to inspire fear. Fruit flies exposed to the pheromone were most cautious. The flies also spent less time eating and reproducing, yielding fewer offspring.In the lab, fruit fly populations affected by fear quickly declined and were unable to rebound. The presence of a praying mantis' scent boosted the chance of extinction by a factor of seven.As prey numbers decline, predators should theoretically move onto other species. But the latest...
Raptor plunging to extinction in England

Raptor plunging to extinction in England

Science
The hen harrier, an iconic bird of prey, is heading towards the brink of extinction in England, new figures suggest. There are just four breeding pairs left in England and numbers are declining elsewhere in the UK.Scotland is the traditional stronghold of these raptors, but numbers have fallen 9% since 2010.Numbers of hen harrier pairs in Wales fell by more than a third over the same period.The birds of prey live primarily on heather moorland. The males are easily identified by their black wing tips. The females look completely different, with puffy brown plumage that helps camouflage them and their nests. But this iconic species is under severe threat, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Illegal killings, along with destruction of their habitat, are behind t...
Paleontologists identify extinction event among marine megafauna

Paleontologists identify extinction event among marine megafauna

Science
June 26 (UPI) -- The disappearance of terrestrial megafauna -- like wooly mammoths and saber tooth tigers -- during the last ice age is well documented. Now, scientists have found evidence that marine megafauna also suffered a previously unknown extinction event.Paleontologists at the University of Zurich analyzed marine fossils dated to the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs, from 5.3 million to 9,700 years BC."We were able to show that around a third of marine megafauna disappeared about three to two million years ago," lead researcher Catalina Pimiento, a scientists with Zurich's Paleontological Institute and Museum, said in a news release. "Therefore, the marine megafaunal communities that humans inherited were already altered and functioning at a diminished diversity."Fossil analysis sho...