[PCA] FW: NPCC News: Plants Take More Time than Animals to go Extinct – Science Magazine

Emily Roberson emilyr at plantsocieties.org
Fri Aug 5 15:52:54 CDT 2016

Native Plant Conservation Campaign News:  Science Magazine Analysis Finds that Many Still-living Plant Species May be Functionally Extinct

August 6, 2016


Several analyses in the 1990s estimated that up to 30,000 plant would become extinct by 2015 based on habitat loss and other environmental degradation rates. However, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that less than 150 plant species are known to be extinct.


A recent Science magazine article <http://t.ymlp44.com/meyapaejjjbafawusaoabm/click.php>  reviews the studies and explores the discrepancies between the predictions and reality of plant extinction. It finds that “the processes and parameters of plant extinction may be quite different from those of animals.”


The article concludes:

“If the high 1990s estimates of plant extinction by 2015 are accurate estimates of extinction debt, then we are facing slow-creeping biodiversity loss on a large scale. Failing to notice this because the time scale is too long would not be smart.”


The article proposes at least two explanations for this “plant extinction debt”:

1.	There may be undocumented extinctions because they have occurred in remote, understudied areas
2.	There may be a long extinction time for many plant species. Many imperiled plants live for centuries or more, and even produce new individuals, but if they cannot sexually reproduce or if the remaining genetic diversity is too low to allow evolution, they become what one researcher terms “the living dead”.  These species “although living out their physiological life, were ‘just as dead … as if they were in the back of a logging truck’”


Soil seed banks, long life spans, and ability to reproduce asexually all contribute to the ability of plants to “survive” after they are effectively extinct.


The article also examines potential human responses to these impending extinctions, including the possibility of gathering disappearing genetic information and even preventing some extinctions.


Read the full article:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6298/446.full <http://t.ymlp44.com/meyapaejjjbafawusaoabm/click.php> 




Emily B. Roberson, Ph.D.

Native Plant Conservation Campaign <http://plantsocieties.cnps.org/> 

415 531 4439

emilyr at plantsocieties.org

The mission of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign is to promote the conservation of native plants and their habitats through collaboration, research, education, and advocacy.

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