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To delete certain items: Recent investigations about hunter-gatherer landscape burning has a major implication for the current debate about the timing of the Anthropocene and the role that humans may have played in the production of greenhouse gases prior to the Industrial Revolution. While a number of human-derived factors are recognized as potentially contributing to rising atmospheric concentrations of CH 4 methane and CO 2 carbon dioxide , deforestation and territorial clearance practices associated with agricultural development may be contributing most to these concentrations globally.

Gaining popularity on his uncommon hypothesis, palaeoclimatologist William Ruddiman in , stipulated that in the early Holocene 11, years ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane levels fluctuated in a pattern which was different from the Pleistocene epoch before it. Human arrival in the Caribbean around 6, years ago is correlated with the extinction of many species.

These sloths were generally smaller than those found on the South American continent. Recent research, based on archaeological and paleontological digs on 70 different Pacific islands has shown that numerous species became extinct as people moved across the Pacific, starting 30, years ago in the Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon Islands.

The first settlers are thought to have arrived in the islands between and CE, with European arrival in the 16th century.

Many of its species are endangered or have gone extinct, primarily due to accidentally introduced species and livestock grazing. Australia was once home to a large assemblage of megafauna , with many parallels to those found on the African continent today.

Australia's fauna is characterised by primarily marsupial mammals, and many reptiles and birds, all existing as giant forms until recently. Humans arrived on the continent very early, about 50, years ago. Extinctions in Australia continued from original settlement until today in both plants and animals , whilst many more animals and plants have declined or are endangered. Due to the older timeframe and the soil chemistry on the continent, very little subfossil preservation evidence exists relative to elsewhere.

The first evidence of direct human predation leading to extinction in Australia was published in Within years of the arrival of humans between 2,—2, years ago, nearly all of Madagascar's distinct, endemic and geographically isolated megafauna became extinct.

Smaller fauna experienced initial increases due to decreased competition, and then subsequent declines over the last years. The primary reasons for this are human hunting and habitat loss from early aridification , both of which persist and threaten Madagascar's remaining taxa today. The eight or more species of elephant birds , giant flightless ratites in the genera Aepyornis and Mullerornis , are extinct from over-hunting, [62] as well as 17 species of lemur, known as giant, subfossil lemurs.

New Zealand is characterised by its geographic isolation and island biogeography , and had been isolated from mainland Australia for 80 million years. It was the last large land mass to be colonised by humans. The arrival of Polynesian settlers circa 12th century resulted in the extinction of all of the islands' megafaunal birds within several hundred years.

This may have put some pressure on other birds but at the time of early European contact 18th Century and colonisation 19th Century the bird life was prolific. With them, the Europeans brought ship rats , possums, cats and mustelids which decimated native bird life, some of which had adapted flightlessness and ground nesting habits and others had no defensive behavior as a result of having no extant endemic mammalian predators.

The kakapo , the world's biggest parrot, which is flightless, now only exists in managed breeding sanctuaries. New Zealand's national emblem, the kiwi , is on the endangered bird list. There has been a debate as to the extent to which the disappearance of megafauna at the end of the last glacial period can be attributed to human activities by hunting, or even by slaughter [65] of prey populations.

There likely would have been human settlements prior to the Clovis Culture, and the history of humans in the Americas may extend back many thousands of years before the Clovis culture.

Comparisons are sometimes made between recent extinctions approximately since the industrial revolution and the Pleistocene extinction near the end of the last glacial period. The latter is exemplified by the extinction of large herbivores such as the woolly mammoth and the carnivores that preyed on them. Humans of this era actively hunted the mammoth and the mastodon [68] but it is not known if this hunting was the cause of the subsequent massive ecological changes, widespread extinctions and climate changes.

The ecosystems encountered by the first Americans had not been exposed to human interaction, and may have been far less resilient to human made changes than the ecosystems encountered by industrial era humans. Therefore, the actions of the Clovis people, despite seeming insignificant by today's standards could indeed have had a profound effect on the ecosystems and wild life which was entirely unused to human influence.

Africa experienced the smallest decline in megafauna compared to the other continents. This is presumably due to the idea that Afroeurasian megafauna evolved alongside humans, and thus developed a healthy fear of them, unlike the comparatively tame animals of other continents.

Most of what once was mammoth steppe has been converted to mire , rendering the environment incapable of supporting them, notably the woolly mammoth. One of the main theories to the extinction is climate change.

The climate change theory has suggested that a change in climate near the end of the late Pleistocene stressed the megafauna to the point of extinction.

Megafauna play a significant role in the lateral transport of mineral nutrients in an ecosystem, tending to translocate them from areas of high to those of lower abundance. They do so by their movement between the time they consume the nutrient and the time they release it through elimination or, to a much lesser extent, through decomposition after death. Large populations of megaherbivores have the potential to contribute greatly to the atmospheric concentration of methane , which is an important greenhouse gas.

Modern ruminant herbivores produce methane as a byproduct of foregut fermentation in digestion, and release it through belching or flatulence.

Recent studies have indicated that the extinction of megafaunal herbivores may have caused a reduction in atmospheric methane. This hypothesis is relatively new. The study estimated that the removal of the bison caused a decrease of as much as 2.

After early humans migrated to the Americas about 13, BP , their hunting and other associated ecological impacts led to the extinction of many megafaunal species there. Calculations suggest that this extinction decreased methane production by about 9. This suggests that the absence of megafaunal methane emissions may have contributed to the abrupt climatic cooling at the onset of the Younger Dryas.

The hyperdisease hypothesis, proposed by Ross MacPhee in , states that the megafaunal die-off was due to an indirect transmission of diseases by newly arriving aboriginal humans. K-selection animals, such as the now-extinct megafauna, are especially vulnerable to diseases, as opposed to r-selection animals who have a shorter gestation period and a higher population size.

Humans are thought to be the sole cause as other earlier migrations of animals into North America from Eurasia did not cause extinctions. There are many problems with this theory, as this disease would have to meet several criteria: Disease has to be very virulent to kill off all the individuals in a genus or species , and even such a virulent disease as West Nile Virus is unlikely to have caused extinction.

However, diseases have been the cause for some extinctions. The introduction of avian malaria and avipoxvirus , for example, have had a negative impact on the endemic birds of Hawaii. The loss of species from ecological communities, defaunation, is primarily driven by human activity. Big cat populations have severely declined over the last half-century and could face extinction in the following decades. According to IUCN estimates: The term pollinator decline refers to the reduction in abundance of insect and other animal pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide beginning at the end of the twentieth century, and continuing into the present day.

Participating researcher Dave Goulson of Sussex University stated that their study suggested that humans are making large parts of the planet uninhabitable for wildlife. Goulson characterized the situation as an approaching "ecological Armageddon", adding that "if we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse. Various species are predicted to become extinct in the near future , [] among them the rhinoceros , [] nonhuman primates , [99] pangolins , [] and giraffes.

Recent extinctions are more directly attributable to human influences, whereas prehistoric extinctions can be attributed to other factors, such as global climate change. Other species, such as the Florida panther , are ecologically extinct , surviving in such low numbers that they essentially have no impact on the ecosystem. Global warming is widely accepted as being a contributor to extinction worldwide, in a similar way that previous extinction events have generally included a rapid change in global climate and meteorology.

It is also expected to disrupt sex ratios in many reptiles which have temperature-dependent sex determination. The removal of land to clear way for palm oil plantations releases carbon emissions held in the peatlands of Indonesia. Rising levels of carbon dioxide are resulting in influx of this gas into the ocean, increasing its acidity. Marine organisms which possess calcium carbonate shells or exoskeletons experience physiological pressure as the carbonate reacts with acid. For example, this is already resulting in coral bleaching on various coral reefs worldwide, which provide valuable habitat and maintain a high biodiversity.

Marine gastropods , bivalves and other invertebrates are also affected, as are the organisms that feed on them. Some researchers suggest that by there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight, [36] with about 8,, metric tons 9,, short tons of plastic being discharged into the oceans annually.

Microplastics make up the bulk of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , and their smaller size is detrimental to cleanup efforts. Overhunting can reduce the local population of game animals by more than half, as well as reducing population density, and may lead to extinction for some species.

The surge in the mass killings by poachers involved in the illegal ivory trade along with habitat loss is threatening African elephant populations. Fishing has had a devastating effect on marine organism populations for several centuries even before the explosion of destructive and highly effective fishing practices like trawling.

A study published in Science concludes that humans tend to hunt larger species, and this could disrupt ocean ecosystems for millions of years. The decline of amphibian populations has also been identified as an indicator of environmental degradation. As well as habitat loss, introduced predators and pollution, Chytridiomycosis , a fungal infection thought to have been accidentally spread by human travel, [6] has caused severe population drops of several species of frogs, including among many others the extinction of the golden toad in Costa Rica and the Gastric-brooding frog in Australia.

Many other amphibian species now face extinction, including the reduction of Rabb's fringe-limbed treefrog to an endling , and the extinction of the Panamanian golden frog in the wild. Chytrid fungus has spread across Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Africa, including countries with high amphibian diversity such as cloud forests in Honduras and Madagascar.

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans is a similar infection currently threatening salamanders. Amphibians are now the most endangered vertebrate group, having existed for more than million years through three other mass extinctions. Millions of bats in the US have been dying off since due to a fungal infection spread from European bats, which appear to be immune. There is currently no form of treatment, and such declines have been described as "unprecedented" in bat evolutionary history by Alan Hicks of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Between and , over ten million beehives were abandoned due to colony collapse disorder , which causes worker bees to abandon the queen. Some leading scientists have advocated for the global community to designate as protected areas 30 percent of the planet by , and 50 percent by , in order to mitigate the contemporary extinction crisis as the human population is projected to grow to 10 billion by the middle of the century.

Human consumption of food and water resources is also projected to double by this time. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Sixth Extinction disambiguation. Marine extinction intensity during the Phanerozoic. Millions of years ago.

The percentage of marine animal extinction at the genus level through the five mass extinctions. Megafaunal mass extinctions and Quaternary extinction event. Australian megafauna , List of extinct animals of Australia , and List of extinct flora of Australia. Invasive species in Australia , Land clearing in Australia , and Fire-stick farming. Wildlife of Madagascar and Subfossil lemur.

List of extinct animals of New Zealand. List of African animals extinct in the Holocene , List of Asian animals extinct in the Holocene , and List of extinct animals of Europe. Extinction risk from global warming , Ocean acidification , Marine pollution , and Social and environmental impact of palm oil. Species affected by poaching and Overfishing. Decline in amphibian populations , White nose syndrome , and Colony collapse disorder. Anthropocentrism Coextinction Ecocriticism Effects of global warming Late Quaternary prehistoric birds List of extinct animals List of extinct plants List of recently extinct mammals List of recently extinct birds List of recently extinct invertebrates List of recently extinct plants List of recently extinct reptiles Planetary boundaries Racing Extinction documentary film The Anthropocene Extinction album Timeline of extinctions in the Holocene.

Extinct and endangered species portal Environment portal. Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Much less frequently mentioned are, however, the ultimate drivers of those immediate causes of biotic destruction, namely, human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich.

These drivers, all of which trace to the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet, are themselves increasing rapidly. Retrieved 15 December The overarching driver of species extinction is human population growth and increasing per capita consumption. Henry Holt and Company. Entering the sixth mass extinction". The Future of life 1st Vintage Books ed. A Critical Review of the Evidence".

Journal of World Prehistory. Case Studies of Neodymium Isotopes in Paleoceanography. Retrieved 10 February Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved November 4, John; Hounslow, Mark W. In Elewa, Ashraf M. Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy. Retrieved 21 January Retrieved August 30, From Global Change to Planetary Stewardship".

Center for Biological Diversity. Retrieved December 19, Retrieved May 25, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Retrieved October 23, Even tens of thousands of years ago, our stone age ancestors were already responsible for a series of ecological disasters. It was not the last. Numerous other species disappeared from Africa, from Eurasia and from the myriad islands around their coasts.

Retrieved 2 April Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Archived from the original PDF on Keith; Higham, Tom F. Journal of Human Evolution. The Natural History of Madagascar. University of Chicago Press.

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