A study found in the Nature Communications journal suggests that the structural body size of animals is decreasing, as the space to support their existence disappears. The research indicates that over 1,000 bigger mammal and bird species will be extinct within the next 100 years. Such a drastic change in wildlife could result in the disintegration of our ecosystem.
A serious change needs to be made
Every human populated continent except for Africa has been stripped clean of larger animals throughout the last 125,000 years. If humans don’t change their habits very soon, the option for repair and restoration will be lost. Due to the destruction of wildlife, forests, hunting, and factory farming, since 1970, animal numbers have dropped by roughly 60 percent, hinting at a 6th mass extinction.
“It is worrying that we are losing these big species when we don’t know their full role,” says Robert Cooke from the University of Southampton. “Without them, things could begin to degrade quite quickly. Ecosystems could start to collapse and become not what we need to survive.”
From the ZSL Institute of Zoology in London, Chris Carbone said, “This study predicts extinction rates that dwarf those recorded between recent ice ages and suggests that larger species are the most vulnerable. I wouldn’t be surprised if the situation for many larger animals is worse than the researchers suggest as their decline is exacerbated by selective poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.”
Further research indicates not only the decrease in animal size, but the alteration of their instinctual habits as well. Antelope, boars, and coyotes have shifted to more nocturnal cycles to avoid human encounters.
Teaming up with Robert Cooke on this research was Amanda Bates from Memorial University in Canada. Bates says, “As long as a species that is projected to become extinct persists, there is time for conservation action and we hope research such as ours can help guide this.” You can view all the details at this link.