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Anthropogenic extinction: Animals who have disappeared from Earth due to human influence

Anthropogenic extinctions caused by human activities pose a serious threat to biodiversity around the world.

Bridget B. Baker, professor at the University of Florida’s Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, talks to FOX News Digital about the complexities of anthropogenic extinctions, the key human activities behind them, specific examples of affected species, and future challenges and opportunities. told. .

What is anthropogenic extinction?

Unlike natural extinction, which is caused by environmental changes or geological phenomena, anthropogenic extinction refers to the process by which species disappear from the earth as a result of human impact on the environment.

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What species have been affected by anthropogenic extinction?

Some species face human-induced extinction due to factors such as habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and hunting.

“More than 90 amphibian species are at risk of extinction due to the chytrid fungus, a global invader spread through human travel and trade. There is increased vulnerability,” Baker said.

Below are examples of animals affected by human-induced extinction.

  1. passenger pigeon
  2. Pyrenean ibex
  3. quagga
  4. golden toad
  5. tasmanian tiger
  6. caribbean monk seal
  7. western black rhino
  8. Pinta island turtle
  9. giant macaw
  10. Christmas Island Apistrel

1. Passenger Pigeon

Once thriving in North America, the passenger pigeon was brought to the brink of extinction in the early 20th century due to relentless hunting and habitat loss.

2. Pyrenean Ibex

Pyrenean ibex in Capra Pirenaica, Spain. (Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo, once roamed the Pyrenees, but became extinct in the 20th century.

Intense hunting by humans for sport and commerce and the spread of disease led to a rapid decline in the animal’s population.

Despite conservation attempts, Celia, the last Pyrenean ibex, died in 2000.

3. Quagga

Zebras at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

A herd of zebras watches over tourists at Shamwari Private Game Reserve near Patterson, South Africa, on November 4, 2022. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

A distinctive subspecies of plains zebra, the quagga once roamed South Africa, but was endangered in the late 19th century. Overhunting and habitat changes by European settlers contributed to the quagga’s extinction.

The last recorded quagga died in captivity in 1883. According to the Quagga Project, efforts are being made to restore similarities in this species through selective breeding, offering a glimpse into the possibility of restoring populations similar to this extinct subspecies.

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4. Golden Toad

golden toad

The golden toad population declined and eventually became extinct due to changing climate patterns. (Education Images/Universal Images Group, Getty Images)

The golden toad, native to Costa Rica, became extinct in the late 20th century. Its unique appearance has made it a symbol of Central America’s biodiversity.

This decline was associated with changing climate patterns that affect montane cloud forest habitat. As the environment changed, including changes in temperature and humidity levels, golden toad populations struggled to adapt.

A combination of habitat degradation and the introduction of the chytrid fungus led to the extinction of the golden toad.

5. Tasmanian Tiger

The now extinct Tasmanian tiger

In 1933, the now extinct Tasmanian tiger was exhibited at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania, Australia. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images)

The Tasmanian tiger, scientifically known as Thylacinus cynocepalus, is a carnivorous marsupial native to Tasmania, Australia, and New Guinea. Resembling a large dog with distinctive tiger-like stripes, it became extinct in the 20th century, with the last known individual dying in captivity in 1936.

Intense hunting, human persecution due to perceived threats to livestock, and habitat loss were the main factors contributing to its extinction. Despite massive efforts to find surviving animals, the Tasmanian tiger remains a perfect example of human-induced extinction.

6. Caribbean Monk Seal

The Caribbean monk seal is a marine mammal that once lived in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

These mammals were declared extinct in 2008, primarily due to hunting, overhunting, and habitat destruction.

7. Western black rhinoceros

The Western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011, largely due to poaching for its valuable horn, which was prized as a traditional medicine and status symbol. This relentless hunting drastically reduced the rhino population and eventually drove it to extinction.

southwestern black rhino

The main reason for the extinction of the western black rhino was poaching. (Education Images/Universal Images Group, Getty Images)

8. Pinta Island Turtle

The Pinta Island tortoise, also known as chelonoidis abingdoni, lived on Pinta Island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Pinta Island’s last turtle, Lonesome George, died in 2012, making the subspecies extinct. George faced problems such as habitat degradation, invasive species, and human exploitation.

9. Green Macaw

The green macaw, scientifically known as cianopsitta spixii, is a species of bright blue parrot native to Brazil, whose natural habitat included the corridor forests along the Rio San Francisco.

Unfortunately, habitat loss due to deforestation and illegal trapping for the pet trade have pushed the green macaw to the brink of extinction.

Although the species is considered extinct in the wild, efforts are being made to reintroduce captive-bred individuals into their native habitat to contribute to conservation, according to Spix’s Macaw Reintroduction Project. I am.

two blue macaws

Blue macaws Felicitas (left) and Frida sit on a branch. (Patrick Proulle/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

10. Christmas Island Apia

The Christmas Island Apia, a type of bat, was declared extinct in 2009.

Loss of natural habitat, combined with the impact of invasive species, has caused the population of this unique bat to decline. The Christmas Island Apistrel, as its name suggests, is native to Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean.

How many species are at risk of extinction each year?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “the current extinction rate is 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal extinction rate.”

The baseline rate, unaffected by humans, represents the natural pace of species decline.

Usually about 5 species per year face irreversible extinction.

amazon rainforest

Deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest seen in Brazil on June 6, 2022. (Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images)

What activities are causing anthropogenic extinctions?

Anthropogenic extinctions are caused by a variety of human activities that significantly impact ecosystems and species.

Main activities include:

  1. habitat destruction
  2. pollution
  3. overharvesting
  4. climate change
  5. Introduction of alien species
  6. deforestation
  7. Industrialization
  8. infrastructure development

Baker noted the complex challenges facing species and emphasized the relationship between our well-being and the health of ecosystems, including wildlife, plants, insects, soil, air and water.

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“It highlights that human activity contributes to stress factors,” she says. “While a single stressor can drive a species to extinction, the current challenge lies in long-term exposure to multiple stressors at the same time. As with humans, as stressors accumulate, resilience weakens. ”

how do people Will it help prevent human-induced extinction?

“Individuals have diverse values ​​and motivations, but the power of collective action should not be underestimated. Working together toward a common goal brings about positive change and improved outcomes.” Baker said.

Is the extinction of humanity the only way to save the planet?

She shared some of the ways people can make positive changes to address human-induced extinctions and protect other species and even public health.

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  1. eat a primarily plant-based diet
  2. Do not release exotic pets into the wild
  3. Buy products with recyclable materials
  4. Participate in beach cleanup activities
  5. Turn off lights and unplug devices when not in use

Baker recommended a number of strategies to reduce your carbon footprint, including advocating using Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide when purchasing seafood.

She also highlighted the impact of laundry, which is a major source of environmental microplastics.

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