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Biodiversity: many species could be even more likely to go extinct than we realise


More than a million species are at risk of extinction according to a new report on biodiversity. But even some species that aren’t considered endangered may be less safe than people think. A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology found that some methods for measuring a species’ generation time might underestimate the likelihood that some species will die out.

A species’ generation time is how long it takes for a generation to be replaced by its mature offspring. This is different for every species and dramatically impacts how quickly a species can respond to changes in their environment. If based on incomplete data or the wrong method, this can seriously distort how we assess the risk of extinction to a given species.

The generation time of a mouse is only a few months, whereas the African elephant has a generation time of 22 years. The longer the generation time, the slower a species can adapt to environmental changes and may, therefore, be more likely to go extinct. MORE

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