Populations of much-loved British mammals including hedgehogs and water voles have dropped by up to two-thirds over the past 20 years, and many more are threatened with imminent extinction.

A team of scientists mined previous studies for estimates of the total mass of carbon found in each group of organisms on Earth as a way to measure relative biomass.

Since the late Pleistocene, large-bodied mammals have been extirpated from much of Earth. Although all habitable continents once harbored giant mammals, the few remaining species are largely confined to Africa. This decline is coincident with the global expansion of hominins over the late Quaternary. Here, we quantify mammalian extinction selectivity, continental body size distributions, and taxonomic diversity over five time periods spanning the past 125,000 years and stretching approximately 200 years into the future.

Explaining the ~5-million-year delay in marine biotic recovery following the latest Permian mass extinction, the largest biotic crisis of the Phanerozoic, is a fundamental challenge for both geological and biological sciences. Ocean redox perturbations may have played a critical role in this delayed recovery. However, the lack of quantitative constraints on the details of Early Triassic oceanic anoxia (for example, time, duration, and extent) leaves the links between oceanic conditions and the delayed biotic recovery ambiguous.

NEW DELHI: The high pollution in Delhi is proving a threat to the capital’s smallest known vertebrate.

Pterosaurs were winged cousins of the dinosaurs and lived from around 200 million years ago to 66 million years ago, when the last pterosaurs disappeared during the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. The pterosaurs are thought to have declined in diversity before their final extinction, suggesting that gradual processes played a major role in their demise. However, pterosaur fossils are very rare, and thus, it is unclear whether pterosaurs were really low in diversity at this time or whether these patterns merely result from a paucity of fossils.

Despite increasing concern about elevated extinction risk as global temperatures rise, it is difficult to confirm causal links between climate change and extinction. By coupling 25 years of in situ climate manipulation with experimental seed introductions and both historical and current plant surveys, we identify causal, mechanistic links between climate change and the local extinction of a widespread mountain plant (Androsace septentrionalis). Climate warming causes precipitous declines in population size by reducing fecundity and survival across multiple life stages.

Anomalous peaks of nickel abundance have been reported in Permian-Triassic boundary sections in China, Israel, Eastern Europe, Spitzbergen, and the Austrian Carnic Alps. New solution ICP-MS results of enhanced nickel from P-T boundary sections in Hungary, Japan, and Spiti, India suggest that the nickel anomalies at the end of the Permian were a worldwide phenomenon.

Original Source

The history of the Earth system is a story of change. Some changes are gradual and benign, but others, especially those associated with catastrophic mass extinction, are relatively abrupt and destructive. What sets one group apart from the other? Here, I hypothesize that perturbations of Earth’s carbon cycle lead to mass extinction if they exceed either a critical rate at long time scales or a critical size at short time scales. By analyzing 31 carbon isotopic events during the past 542 million years, I identify the critical rate with a limit imposed by mass conservation.

The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss. This view overlooks the current trends of population declines and extinctions.