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NatureScience

Invasive Species, Habitat Loss Threaten to Extinguish Life in Oceania

Some findings in the report:

Threats in Oceania

Loss and degradation of habitat is the largest single threat to land species, including 80 percent of threatened species.

More than 1,200 bird species have become extinct in the Pacific islands and archipelagos.

In Australia agriculture has modified or destroyed about 50 percent of woodland and forest ecosystems, and about 70 percent of remaining forests are ecologically degraded from logging.

Invasive species, particularly vertebrates and vascular plants, have devastated terrestrial species of the Pacific Islands and caused 75 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate extinctions on oceanic islands.

More than 2,500 invasive plants have colonized New Zealand and Australia – representing about 11 percent of native plant species.

Many invasive weeds, vertebrate pests, and fishes were introduced by government, agriculturalists, horticulturalists and hunters.

Species deceases: global snapshot

Nearly 17,000 of the world’s 45,000 assessed species are threatened with extinction (38 percent). Of these, 3,246 are in the highest category of threat, Critically Endangered, 4,770 are Endangered and 8,912 are Vulnerable to extinction.

Nearly 5,500 animal species are known to be threatened with extinction and at least 1,141 of the 5,487 known mammal species are threatened worldwide.

In 2008, nearly 450 mammals were listed as Endangered, including the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), after the global population declined by more than 60 percent in the last 10 years.

Scientists have catalogued relatively little about the rest of the world’s fauna: only 5 percent of fish, 6 percent of reptiles, and 7 percent of amphibians have been evaluated. Of those studied, at least 750 fish species, 290 reptiles, and 150 amphibians are at risk.

The average extinction rate is now some 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than the rate that prevailed over the past 60 million years.

Photo Credit:  Rock Portrait Photography via flickr under Creative Commons License

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