GLCF contributes to global synthesis of biodiversity and extinction, published in the journal Science
Earth's biosphere is now undergoing a wave of extinctions on par with the ending of the age of dinosaurs. Current extinction rates are 1,000 times the natural rate and are higher than previously estimated,according to an international team of researchers including Joseph Sexton, Associate Research Professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences, in a synthesis published in the May 30 issue of the journal Science. The massive loss of biodiversity is primarily due to human activity, specifically the expansion and intensification of human land use, and further extinctions are imminent without immediate action. However, emerging technologies are enabling scientists to know more about the geographic distribution of at-risk species than ever before. Specifically, technologies such as satellite-based monitoring of land cover change by the Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF) are making it easier to find and monitor species’ ranges and focus conservation actions more efficiently. Supporting and expanding international databases and tools that help identify and track new threats will be critical to helping scientists zero in on environmental trends and patterns that might otherwise be missed.
The findings are a benchmark synthesis of the current extinction crisis, as well as a call to action for scientists and the public to conserve what is left of Earth's biodiversity. Their synthesis of current studies on species extinction, distribution, and protection shows that emerging technologies could give scientists and policymakers more efficient means to identify the species at greatest risk and to take protective measures to preserve Earth’s biodiversity. Full press release http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/new-technologies-key-averting-massive-wave-extinctions