Nature Wildlife in 'catastrophic decline' due to human destruction, scientists warn


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BBC News: Wildlife in 'catastrophic decline' due to human destruction, scientists warn

"Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the conservation group WWF.

The report says this "catastrophic decline" shows no sign of slowing.

And it warns that nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before.

Wildlife is "in freefall" as we burn forests, over-fish our seas and destroy wild areas, says Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF.

"We are wrecking our world - the one place we call home - risking our health, security and survival here on Earth. Now nature is sending us a desperate SOS and time is running out."

The report looked at thousands of different wildlife species monitored by conservation scientists in habitats across the world.

They recorded an average 68% fall in more than 20,000 populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish since 1970.
The largest declines are in tropical areas. The drop of 94% for Latin America and the Caribbean is the largest anywhere in the world, driven by a cocktail of threats to reptiles, amphibians and birds.

The biggest eagles in the world are in danger. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon did the harpies, which can weigh more than seven kilos and measure up to one meter in length and two in wingspan (distance between the ends of the wings) , do not have enough prey to stay healthy and to feed their cubs.

Tropical deforestation inducesthresholds of reproductive viability
and habitat suitability in Earth’s
largest eagles

Everton B. P. Miranda 1*, Carlos A. Peres 2,3, Vítor Carvalho‐Rocha2,4, Bruna V. Miguel5, Nickolas Lormand6, Niki Huizinga7, Charles A. Munn8, Thiago B. F. Semedo9,
Tiago V. Ferreira10, João B. Pinho10, Vítor Q. Piacentini11, Miguel Â. Marini 12 &
Colleen T. Downs 1

Apex predators are threatened globally, and their local extinctions are often driven by failures in sustaining prey acquisition under contexts of severe prey scarcity. The harpy eagle Harpia harpyja is Earth’s largest eagle and the apex aerial predator of Amazonian forests, but no previous study has examined the impact of forest loss on their feeding ecology. We monitored 16 active harpy eagle nests embedded within landscapes that had experienced 0 to 85% of forest loss, and identified 306 captured prey items. Harpy eagles could not switch to open‐habitat prey in deforested habitats, and retained a diet based on canopy vertebrates even in deforested landscapes. Feeding rates decreased with forest loss, with three fledged individuals dying of starvation in landscapes that succumbed to 50–70% deforestation. Because landscapes deforested by > 70% supported no nests, and eaglets could not be provisioned to independence within landscapes > 50% forest loss, we established a 50% forest cover threshold for the reproductive viability of harpy eagle pairs. Our scaling‐up estimate indicates that 35% of the entire 428,800‐km2 Amazonian ‘Arc of Deforestation’ study region cannot support breeding harpy eagle populations. Our results suggest that restoring harpy eagle population viability within highly fragmented forest landscapes critically depends on decisive forest conservation action.


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