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Bioécologie

Vanishing fauna

1 Août 2014,

Publié par Bioécologie

Science 25 July 2014 - Vol. 345 no. 6195 pp. 392-395 - DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6195.392

Sacha Vignieri

  1. This special issue has been edited by Sacha Vignieri, Andrew M. Sugden, and Elizabeth Pennisi.

During the Pleistocene epoch, only tens of thousands of years ago, our planet supported large, spectacular animals. Mammoths, terror birds, giant tortoises, and saber-toothed cats, as well as many less familiar species such as giant ground sloths (some of which reached 7 meters in height) and glyptodonts (which resembled car-sized armadillos), roamed freely. Since then, however, the number and diversity of animal species on Earth have consistently and steadily declined. Today we are left with a relatively depauperate fauna, and we continue to lose animal species to extinction rapidly. Although some debate persists, most of the evidence suggests that humans were responsible for extinction of this Pleistocene fauna, and we continue to drive animal extinctions today through the destruction of wild lands, consumption of animals as a resource or a luxury, and persecution of species we see as threats or competitors.

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Twilight for animals. Large numbers of animal species face extinction in Southeast Asia, the Amazon, and the Andes, as shown in this map of mammals, amphibians, and birds. Animals also face high rates of extinction in Europe and North America, where fewer species are found overall.

Twilight for animals. Large numbers of animal species face extinction in Southeast Asia, the Amazon, and the Andes, as shown in this map of mammals, amphibians, and birds. Animals also face high rates of extinction in Europe and North America, where fewer species are found overall.

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