Fragmented Forests Causing Animals to Vanish

Expanding human activity has been eating away at Earth’s forests and the disappearing woodlands are causing certain species of animals to vanish along with them, according to a new study.

The findings concluded 85 percent of animals living in forests are affected by fragmentation, which impacts all species and ecosystems, but each animal group is impacted differently.

“Tropical forests and the animals they harbor are being lost at alarming rates, but in order to protect them, we need to know exactly how fragmentation of the land is impacting on the animals that live there,” study co-author and Newcastle University scientist Marion Pfeifer said.

Currently, half of the world’s woodland habitats fall within 1,600 feet of a forest edge due to being broken up by roads under construction and other expansion-related human activity. The researchers say these edges contribute to global declines in biodiversity and the functions of ecosystems.

In order to study the impacts, the scientists looked at changes to the land surrounding the forests and mapped the numbers of 1,673 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians in 22 tropical regions of Asia, Africa and America.

They found species that were living in the center of forests and were more likely to be considered threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reached their highest numbers more than 650 to 1,300 feet from the edges of the forest. This suggested that they depend on large, rolling forests in order to flourish.

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