Mammal Population Losses and the Extinction Crisis

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Science  03 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5569, pp. 904-907
DOI: 10.1126/science.1069349

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The disappearance of populations is a prelude to species extinction. No geographically explicit estimates have been made of current population losses of major indicator taxa. Here we compare historic and present distributions of 173 declining mammal species from six continents. These species have collectively lost over 50% of their historic range area, mostly where human activities are intensive. This implies a serious loss of ecosystem services and goods. It also signals a substantial threat to species diversity.

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