Nature is threatened by cascading extinction, warns study

This estimate is based on new modeling tools developed by two European and Australian researchers to better account for “co-extinction”, the result of the “cascading” disappearance of interdependent species. For example, when a species disappears due to climate change (primary extinction), its predators also end up dying out due to lack of food (co-extinction).

“Each species depends on the others”

“Each species depends in some way on the others,” said Professor Corey Bradshaw of Australia’s Flinders University and co-author of the study. This observation of “inevitable” chain extinctions comes at a time when ministers from around the world are meeting at COP15 in Montreal to seal a new “pact of peace with nature”.

The challenges are significant, as one million species are threatened with extinction. Climate change should accelerate this movement under the influence of extreme weather events, changes in behavior or habitats. But the authors of the study believe that previous models had not accounted for co-extinctions. To better understand them, with the help of powerful computers, they built a huge “virtual planet Earth” taking into account “who eats who”, explained Corey Bradshaw.

“Climate change is believed to be responsible for the largest share of extinctions, a further reminder that the twin crises of climate and biodiversity are closely linked”

This model made it possible to simulate different scenarios of climate change and habitat degradation – for example under the influence of deforestation – to predict the loss of biodiversity in a given location.

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