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Species Coextinctions and the Biodiversity Crisis

Science  10 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5690, pp. 1632-1634
DOI: 10.1126/science.1101101

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Abstract

To assess the coextinction of species (the loss of a species upon the loss of another), we present a probabilistic model, scaled with empirical data. The model examines the relationship between coextinction levels (proportion of species extinct) of affiliates and their hosts across a wide range of coevolved interspecific systems: pollinating Ficus wasps and Ficus, parasites and their hosts, butterflies and their larval host plants, and ant butterflies and their host ants. Applying a nomographic method based on mean host specificity (number of host species per affiliate species), we estimate that 6300 affiliate species are “coendangered” with host species currently listed as endangered. Current extinction estimates need to be recalibrated by taking species coextinctions into account.

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