Why are so many animals dying? More mass death events occurring now than ever before, study claims
- Three US institutions say mass die-offs are now more common
- They have increased by one event per year for 70 years
- Although not as deadly as an extinction they can kill 90% of a population
- Reasons include human intervention and climate factors
- The worst cases were the result of multiple causes
MASS MORTALITY EVENTS (MMEs)
The analysis of 727 published MMEs from across the globe, affecting 2,407 animal populations, found that the magnitude of such events since 1940 has been intensifying for birds, fishes and marine invertebrates, decreasing for reptiles and amphibians and staying the same for mammals.
The most severe events were those with multiple causes, the paper shows.
Although mass mortality events are often a natural event ‘the most alarming and interesting result was the sheer magnitude of some of these mortality events,’ Dr Adam Siepielski of the University of San Diego said.
‘Billions of individuals dying are just huge numbers to comprehend. The study provides yet another example of the challenges to life that organisms are confronted with on a planet increasingly dominated by the influence of humans in the environment.’