TROPICAL RAINFORESTS: Disappearing Opportunities

Where Are All These Disappearing Species?

Since 1600 "only" 724 species have been recorded as going extinct. Between 1900-1950, 60 species were documented as disappearing. Yet many biologists presently project annual species loss in the thousands. Why is there this great discrepancy in species loss?

Well the simple answer is scientists have very little idea of the rate of species loss because they know so little about how many species Earth houses. Scientists like Wilson (1992) and Erwin (1982) believe at least half the world's species dwell in the rainforests of the world. A large number of these species are limited to the rainforest canopy and are confined to relatively small geographic areas. Because so little is known about these species, scientists make assumptions on the relationship between the number of species and area and use their calculations to project species loss.

Critics have argued that the "extinction crisis [based on these theoretical projections] is alarmist and exaggerated" (Brooks et al. 1997).

Continued: Extinction

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