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Scientists: 1 in 4 mammals faces extinction

Conservationists taking a detailed look at the world's mammals found that more and more species are on their way to extinction...

  • One in four species of mammal is threatened with extinction
  • The population of one in two species is in decline
  • 76 mammal species have gone extinct since 1500
  • Larger species tend to be more threatened than smaller ones
  • Climate change is affecting sea ice dependent species such as polar bears and harp seals

Scientists: 1 in 4 mammals faces extinction
By Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer
October 6, 2008

WASHINGTON — Conservationists have taken the first detailed look at the world's mammals in more than a decade, and the news isn't good.

"Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," the team led by Jan Schipper of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland, concluded.\

"We estimate that one in four species is threatened with extinction and that the population of one in two is declining," the researchers said in a report to be published Friday in the journal Science. The findings were being released Monday at the IUCN meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

"How impoverished we would be if we lost 25% of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report.

"Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."

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