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Study: One in Six Species Extinct by 2100

posted: 05/01/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Detail of captive female orangutan with young. Pongo pygmaeus.
Jeff Foott/DCL

If global warming persists at its current pace, one in six species will be extinct by the year 2100, according to University of Connecticut professor Mark Urban.

In a new study published in the latest issue of Science, Urban undertakes a comprehensive meta-analysis of over 130 previously published studies regarding global warming and species extinction rates.

Urban's work highlights not only the threat to endangered wildlife, but also shortcomings in the scientific community's research.

While 60% of climate change studies have focused on North America and Europe, Urban contends that wildlife in South America, Australia, and New Zealand are actually at a more immediate risk of extinction. Many of the ecological conditions found in those areas are not found anywhere else on the planet, and many of the native species in those areas cannot easily adapt to new climates.

Furthermore, Urban notes that endangered species are not the only ones threatened by climate change. Wildlife currently found in abundance will still experience "substantial changes in abundance, distribution, and in their interactions with other species".

"It's hard enough to predict change, but in the end, we have one climate to contend with," says Urban. "With living things, we are dealing with millions of species, none of which act precisely the same. In fact, we may be surprised, as indirect biologic risks that are not even recognized at present may turn out to have a greater impact than we've ever anticipated."

Click here for more information from University of Connecticut

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