AboutZoos, Since 2008


Extinc­tion in mam­mals, redis­cov­ery and detectability

pub­lished 21 Decem­ber 2011 | mod­i­fied 29 Decem­ber 2011

To decide and declare a species has gone extinct is a dar­ing task. Many times a species which was con­sid­ered pos­si­bly extinct, has been redis­cov­ered. It is espe­cially hard to detect and ver­ify whether a species with long gaps in its sight­ing records has gone extinct or not.

Sci­en­tists, Fisher and Blomberg, eval­u­ated data on redis­cov­ery rates of mam­mals con­sid­ered extinct to find out if extinc­tion from dif­fer­ent causes is equally detectable, and what affects the prob­a­bil­ity of redis­cov­ery. It turns out, accord­ing the sci­en­tists, that species extinc­tion due to habi­tat loss is more dif­fi­cult to detect than species extinc­tion due to intro­duc­tion of preda­tors and dis­eases, or by overkill. Only when the species had a very restricted dis­tri­b­u­tion, habi­tat loss was not a likely cause for misclassification.

(Source: Pro­ceed­ings of the Royal Soci­ety, 29.09.2010; pub­lished online before print)

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