Giant Jewel (Chlorocypha centripunctata. Photo by Kai Schuette
The latest update of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened
Species™ shows that 17,291 species out of the 47,677 assessed species
are threatened with extinction. Those threatened are 21 percent of ALL known mammal, 30 percent of ALL known amphibians, 12 percent of ALL known birds, 28 percent of
reptiles, 37 percent of freshwater fishes, 70 percent of plants, 35
percent of invertebrates. Is this the apocalypse?! Why are so many animals/plants dying?
Habitat loss seems to be a key factor, as well as the introduction of invasive species like insects and fungus to foreign soils where they disturb the ecosystem. This should be nothing new to us New Englanders. The hemlock trees have been under attack from the insect adelgid and could be completely decimated off the face of New England by the end of this century, researchers predict. The mighty oak trees of Martha's Vineyard have also suffered huge losses after being eaten alive by catepillars.