Humanity driving mass extinction, finds report

Human impact on the world’s biosphere has driven the possible extinction of a quarter of all land-based mammals, according to a new report released by the University of Queensland (UQ).

UQ researchers compared a 16-year trend in global human impact with the extinction risk of around 4500 land-based mammals.

UQ’s Adjuct Fellow Dr Moreno Di Marco said that the analysis provided a new framework through which to observe extinction events.

“We live in an era when one in every four mammal species is at risk of going extinct,” he said.

“But with more than 5600 mammal species globally, it’s time consuming and expensive to track the changes for every species.

“To get a clearer idea of what’s systematically leading to these declines, we decided to combine mapping of human pressures with extinction risk assessment data for mammal species.”

The researchers found that human footprint was linked strongly to extinction risk change for land-based mammals – more than any other variable they tested.

UQ’s Professor James Watson said the findings were invaluable for future conservation efforts.

“What we’ve created has huge potential to provide rapid assessment of species extinction risk, without having to go through extensive expert consultation every time,” he said.

“It has the potential to change how we assess biodiversity conservation status globally.

“The international community has a mission to prevent the decline of species, and this research will assist in the critical job of prioritising actions for minimising species extinction risk.

“They need to see the big picture, before it’s too late.”

Subscribe to The Environment Report