Will a tropical extinction crisis be averted?

Many ecologists expect widespread habitat loss in the tropics will lead to an extinction crisis among tropical forest species. STRI staff scientists Joseph Wright and Helene Muller-Landau strongly disagree, and they laid out their case in in a debate-sparking scientific study.

After a thorough analysis of trends in human population growth and forest recovery, the researchers expect that secondary forests will create the habitat needed by most terrestrial tropical species. Even in a world that could have 10 billion people on it by 2050.

"Species are more resilient than we think," said Wright, pointing to part of the study that examined how bird species are holding on, despite habitat loss.

"Current human demographic trends, including slowing population growth and intense urbanization, give reason to hope that deforestation will slow, natural forest regeneration through secondary succession will accelerate, and the widely anticipated mass extinction of tropical forest species will be avoided," Wright and Muller-Landau concluded.

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Asner Wright Hall Muller Winter Potvin
Turner Detto Hubell Rubinoff Davies