News Round-Up

Loss of land-based vertebrates is accelerating


In 2015, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich coauthored a study declaring the world’s sixth mass extinction was underway. Five years later, Ehrlich and colleagues at other institutions have a grim update: the extinction rate is likely much higher than previously thought and is eroding nature’s ability to provide vital services to people.

Their new paper, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates the wildlife trade and other human impacts have wiped out hundreds of species and pushed many more to the brink of extinction at an unprecedented rate.

For perspective, scientists estimate that in the entire twentieth century, at least 543 land vertebrate species went extinct. Ehrlich and his coauthors estimate that nearly the same number of species are likely to go extinct in the next two decades alone. MORE