Human population growth presents increasing threat to animal species

June 19, 2013 at 5:32 PM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 19 (UPI) -- Human population growth is creating a grim outlook for mammals and birds and could increase numbers of threatened species by 2050, U.S. researchers say.

Growth in human population will inevitably crowd out mammals and birds and nations experiencing average growth can expect at least 3.3 percent more threatened species in the next decade, and an increase of 10.8 percent species threatened with extinction by 2050, scientists at Ohio State University reported Wednesday.

"The data speak loud and clear that not only human population density, but the growth of the human population, is still having an effect on extinction threats to other species," lead author and anthropology Professor Jeffrey McKee said.

Meaningful biodiversity conservation efforts must take into consideration the expanding human population footprint, he said, a subject many scientists choose to avoid.

"Our projection is based on human population density alone. It doesn't take into account climate change, industrialization or wars," McKee said.

"So the actual numbers that we predict for 2050 will be very different because everything we do will exacerbate the problem," he said. "You can do all the conservation in the world that you want, but it's going to be for naught if we don't keep the human population in check."

An expanding human population footprint is "one of the biggest concerns of this century," McKee said. "When [humans are] left with less space, there's virtually no space left for most other species."

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