29 July 2009

New Report Points to Looming Extinction Crisis in Oceania

Science Daily reports today on a landmark study of threats to biodiversity and species extinctions across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

"Published in the international journal Conservation Biology, the report is the first comprehensive review of more than 24,000 scientific publications related to conservation in the Oceanic region. Compiled by a team of 14 scientists, it reveals a sorry and worsening picture of habitat destruction and species loss. It also describes the deficiencies of and opportunities for governmental action to lessen this mounting regional and global problem."

According to the study,

* Loss and degradation of habitat is the largest single threat to land species, including 80 percent of threatened species.
* More than 1,200 bird species have become extinct in the Pacific islands and archipelagos.
* In Australia agriculture has modified or destroyed about 50 percent of woodland and forest ecosystems, and about 70 percent of remaining forests are ecologically degraded from logging.
* Invasive species, particularly vertebrates and vascular plants, have devastated terrestrial species of the Pacific Islands and caused 75 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate extinctions on oceanic islands.
* More than 2,500 invasive plants have colonized New Zealand and Australia – representing about 11 percent of native plant species.
* Many invasive weeds, vertebrate pests, and fishes were introduced by government, agriculturalists, horticulturalists and hunters.

Read more @ Science Daily:

Additional information can be found at: University of New South Wales

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