Species decline? Long term biodiversity study documents new species on rise

The diversity of the world’s life forms — from corals to carnivores — is under assault. Decades of scientific studies document the fraying of ecosystems and a grim tally of species extinctions due to destroyed habitat, pollution, climate change, invasives and overharvesting. Which makes a recent report in the journal Science rather surprising.

Nick Gotelli, a professor at the University of Vermont, with colleagues from Saint Andrews University, Scotland, and the University of Maine, re-examined data from one hundred long-term monitoring studies done around the world — polar regions to the tropics, in the oceans and on land. They discovered that the number of species in many of these places has not changed much — or has actually increased.

A global extinction crisis should show up in declining levels of local biodiversity, right? That’s not what the scientists found. Instead they discovered that, on average, the number of species recorded remained the same over time. Fifty-nine of the one hundred biological communities showed an increase in species richness and 41 a decrease.

Read the full, original story: Surprising global species shake-up discovered

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