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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Singapore species extinction rate found to be 37% over the past 200 years

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A multi-institutional team of biologists and life and environmental scientists found that the rate of extinction of plants and animals in Singapore over the past 200 years is about 37%. This discovery is Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous research has shown that before the arrival of humans, the island nation of Singapore was almost completely covered in tropical rainforest, with most of the rest consisting of swamps or mangrove forests. Since then, much of the island has been deforested. In addition to the loss of trees and habitat, there has also been a significant loss of other types of plants and animals that once inhabited the island.

In this new study, the researchers noted that little effort has been made to determine the rate of decline in island biodiversity over the years. To this end, they conducted research to learn more about what happened over the past two centuries.

The researchers analyzed historical records dating back to 1796 and detailing the island’s flora and fauna. In total, his records of more than 50,000 species of plants and animals were found, including 3,000 endemic species. As part of their analysis, they used mathematical models to estimate what’s called a “dark extinction,” where life is thought to have gone extinct but no research has been done to prove it. .

They were able to calculate an island-wide extinction rate of 37% over the past 200 years. That tally included about half of the island’s butterflies, 90% of its bird species, and about two-fifths of its bees. Also, about 60% of large mammals, including tigers and leopards, became extinct.

Based on their results, the researchers made extrapolations for other regions in Southeast Asia. They found that if deforestation rates continue at current rates, about 18% of all species currently living in the region will be extinct by 2100.

For more information:
Ryan A. Chisholm et al., Two Centuries of Biodiversity Discovery and Loss in Singapore, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2309034120

Magazine information:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences



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