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24 May 2010
Extinctions linked to climate change

A group of scientists, lead by Dr David Nogues-Bravo, of the Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, at the University of Copenhagen, have found a link between climate change and the extinction of large groups of mammals.
     Until now this link could not be successfully proved as all the data gathered had been at a local or regional basis and individual findings did not cross relate to each other. By approaching the data from a global perspective it became more and more apparent that there was a definite link between the extinction of larger mammals and the cooling of the planet.
     The data was gathered for a period up to 50,000 BCE and charted the decline in mammals up to the full glacial conditions which existed at approximately 21,000 BCE. Then, as the planet started to warm up again, conditions were ripe for the expansion of the human population and this continued the work started by the glacial period and more mammalian species became extinct.
     By using this larger model it was possible for the scientists to analyse local data in context more accurately, and it was shown that areas of the globe where the climate change was more pronounced led to a greater number of extinctions and vice versa where the temperature change was less pronounced. Co-author of the study, Miguel Araujo, said "While climate change is not the only factor behind extinction, past, present or future, we cannot neglect in any way that climate change, directly or indirectly, is a crucial actor to understand past and future species extinctions."

Source: Wiley (18 May 2010)

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