Evidence for Modern Plant and Animal Extinctions

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Biology ・APA ・8 Sources

A horrifying fact: the sixth mass extinction

A horrifying fact is that the world is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of animals and plants. The planet continues to experience in all likelihood the worst dying-off of species since the loss of dinosaurs thousands of years ago. Extinction is a herbal phenomenon and dozens of species are going into extinct every day. Other than natural causes, the human things to do contribute to the climate shift for this reason creating the current disaster on species extinct. The 99 percent of the present day species extent comes from threats from human activities that drive loss of habitat, world warming, and the introduction of exotic species. The industrial and technological advancement make a contribution significantly to biodiversity loss either by plummeting numbers or extinction. The paper presents evidence that shows natural and human activities that lead to the extinction of both plants and animals.

Human activities and Animal Extinction

The fossil recovered from different regions reveals overwhelming extinction around the world. According to Condie (2005), natural disasters and catastrophes lead to mass extinction as compared to animals and plants that fail to adapt to environmental changes. Extinction is mostly as a result of natural causes but the modern day human activities speed up extinction. Consequently, the events and activities affect the natural world including animal and plants survival. The variability in the climate conditions continues to affect species found in the Polar Regions due to the receding of the ice caps. At the same time, the rising sea levels destroy the ecosystem in estuarine (Parry, 2007). In addition, the human beings are clearing the tropical forests for agricultural activities greatly impact the diversity of both animals and plants species' habitat (Barbier).

The effects of human activities on the natural world

The effects of human activities on the natural world became evident in the 20th century. The formation of IUCN aimed at conserving natural environment around the world and save the species. The organization in 1964 produced the Red list of animal and plant species at risk of being wiped out due to their valuable products. The list included the severity threat to their survival and conservation status required. For instance, the mammals that include primates from the tropical forest are disappearing. Some species of the tarsiers, apes, galagos, lorids, monkeys and lorids are primates that risk extinction (Center for Biological Diversity, 2017). The IUCN creates the awareness and helps scholars understand extinction threats posed the various animals and plants from different biomes in the planet earth. The exact number of species in danger of extinction is not known. However, according to IUCN, 3% of 16928 identified and described species around the world are under great threat.

Declaring certain species extinct

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) set the criteria that government and environmentalist should use in declaring whether certain species went into extinct. The criteria suggest that the last individual of such species has died. There are surveys are carried out to prove that the certain individual is not documented over a certain period. The criterion is important to avoid declaring some animals extinct when it is not the case (Serrelli & Nathalie, 2015). There is documentation of some animals that had been declared extinct therefore removed from the list of extinction. Observing the criterion is crucial as it helps in identification of at least two animals' species that faced modern era extinction. The animals include North America's abundant bird species known as passenger pigeons and Tasmanian wolf.

Extinction: Tasmanian Wolf

The emigration into new environments has its own challenges and new settlers are unaware of the future surrounding. For instance, European settlers arrived in Tasmania in Australia with their herd of sheep. The introduction of sheep sparked the conflict between human beings and wildlife. The European hunted down the wolfs in Tasmania in an attempt to reduce prey numbers. The killings taking place in the island decimated the Tasmanian wolf population. The last Tasmanian wolf died at Hobart Zoo in 1936 and the species could not be documented over 50 years of this death. Therefore, in 1986, the animal species was officially declared extinct. According to Lindenmayer & Mark (2005), some people claim to sight the species without any evidence and therefore, it is official that Tasmanian wolf went into extinction. The human activities prove to have a serious impact toward survival of animal species.


Birds are in almost every habitat and most familiar and visible wildlife worldwide. The birds of the sky are like flowers and losing one species may not have any significance. However, the loss of certain species has detrimental consequences for the ecology. The birds have a vital part in the ecosystem as they disperse seeds and their removal means decline and eventual extinction of some plant species. Birds offer essential bell wire for tracking changes in the biosphere. The declining population of the bird species is a clear indication of profound effects of changes taking place on the planet. The habitat loss and degradation contribute immensely to the decline in bird species. In addition, invasive species and capture by collectors play a significant role in the decline.

The decline of bird species

The United States, for instance, reported in 2009 that at least 251 of the 800 bird species in the country required conservation. The Birdlife International indicates that 192 of the total 9,865 birds are at extreme risk of extinction (Center for Biological Diversity, 2017). The passenger pigeons were in their billion numbers but by the late 18th and early 19th century, the numbers decline drastically. A young boy from Ohio shot down the last known member of the wild bird in 1900. However, it is in 1914, at Cincinnati Zoo where the last member of the known species died. The extinction of the bird marked one of the prominent greatest biological losses in the 20 century (Sedjo, 2012). It took only a century to completely wipe out one of the abundant birds on earth. A combination of various factors contributed to the extinction of the bird. The birds were easy to kill, uncontrolled hunting and the loss of habitat contributed to the extinction (Miller, 2005). The valuable feathers were used in making pillows while the bones made fertilizers in virgin lands ready for planting. Clearing of bushes meant the destruction of the bird's habitat. The human activity again contributed to the eventual extinction of passenger pigeon (Miller, 2005).

Amphibians at a higher risk

The amphibians are at a higher risk of extinction among the animal groups. There are over 6,000 identified amphibians at risk of extinction (Center for Biological Diversity, 2017). The toads, frogs and the salamanders continue to disappear due to air, water pollution, and habitat loss. The demand for water and continued dam construction around the world, invasive species and pollutant are a great threat to the fish species in both marine and freshwater habitats. Pollutants and ground water projects endanger the freshwater invertebrates. The changing climatic conditions and ultraviolet light, diseases and exotic species introduction increase vulnerability to the amphibians. The amphibians are sensitive to changes in the environment that signaling that other species including humans are at risk.

Plants: the backbone of the ecosystem

The plant produces oxygen during photosynthesis. Plants are fundamental to the survival of both animals and human beings. In addition, plants produce medicinal substances used to treat human beings and animals. The IUCN identified over 300, 000 plants but managed to study and evaluate 12,914 species only (Center for Biological Diversity, 2017). Out of the total evaluated plant pollution, at least 68 percent risk extinction. Unlike animals, plants cannot move when their habitat is invaded thus increased the risk of extinction. Destruction of the habitat creates the 'extinction debt'. The dominant plant may soon disappear because the plants cannot disperse to new habitat and patches. The global warming contributes immensely thus exacerbate the phenomenon (MacPhee & Ross, 1999). The scientists indicate that increased temperatures cause quick and dramatic in plant distribution range around the worlds. The plants are the backbone of the ecosystem and found at the base of the food chain. Extinction of some plants will spell doom to all species which depend on plants for survival, shelter, and food.


In the past hundreds of years, planet earth lost an estimated 1,000 species through extinction from the passenger, Rocky Mountain grasshopper, and Culebra parrot of Puerto Rico to Merriam's elk. The numbers do not include the hundreds of species disappeared before scientific studies about them. The exact number of species in danger of extinction is not known. However, according to IUCN, 3% of 16928 identified and described species around the world are in great threat of becoming extinct. Recently, the IUCN announced that the world cannot reverse trends towards species depletion or extinction. With the natural disasters and increasing human activities through technology, it is clear that thousands of species will disappear forever in coming decades.


Barbier, E. (2001). Tropical deforestation and land use. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
Center for Biological Crisis (2017). The Extinction Crisis. Retrieved on April 12, 2017 from http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/#
Condie, K. C. (2016). Earth as an evolving planetary system.
Lindenmayer, D. B., & Burgman, M. A. (2005). Practical conservation biology. Collingwood, Vic: CSIRO Publishing.
MacPhee, Ross D. E. (1999)Extinctions in Near Time: Causes, Contexts, and Consequences. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Miller, G. T., & Spoolman, S. E. (2015). Essentials of ecology.
Parry, M. L., Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change., & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007). Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability: Contribution of Working Group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press.
In Serrelli, E., & In Gontier, N. (2015). Macroevolution: Explanation, interpretation and evidence. Switzerland: Springer Publishing
Sedjo, P. R. A. (2012). Perspectives on Sustainable Resources in America. Taylor & Francis.

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