A Deeply Scarred Land

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Science  08 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5928, pp. 713-714
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_713

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As China mourns the first anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake, the ecological toll is just coming to light. Besides unleashing greenhouse gases, landslides caused widespread habitat fragmentation—threatening the region's unique assemblage of species, including its dwindling wild population of giant pandas. Landslides destroyed 122,000 hectares of vegetation, including 98,000 hectares of forest. It will take years of survey work, researchers say, to understand how Sichuan's biodiversity hot spot will respond.