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Larger Marine Animals Having Higher Risk Of Extinction

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The larger the marine animal, the higher the extinction threat, say researchers. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Quite many of the marine species are over the verge of getting extinct. They are getting extinct due to the higher amount of humanistic interference’s among them.

These interference creates hunting of this animals and even sometimes getting extinct as they are not able to adapt to the habitat.

According to the recent Stanford-led report, larger bodied marine animals are more likely to get extinct than smaller creatures. It’s a pattern which is unprecedented in the history of life on Earth and is one which is likely driven by human fishing.

Stanford Earth Professor Jon Payne is putting modern extinction in context of comparing them with Earth’s five previous mass extinctions.

Bigger animals: Greater chances of extinction

Jonathan Payne who is a paleobiologist from Stanford’s school of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences commenting over the same says, “We’ve found that extinction threat in the modern oceans is very strongly associated with larger body size. This is most likely due to people targeting larger species for consumption first.”

This newer study is published in the Journal Science on Sept 16th issue. Payne and his colleagues has examined the association between the extinction threat level and ecological traits which includes body size. They were mainly considering for two of the major groups of marine animals which includes mollusks and vertebrates.

These interference creates hunting of this animals and even sometimes getting extinct as they are not able to adapt to the habitat.

Author’s Views

Noel Heim who is a post doctoral researcher in Payne’s lab commenting over the same says, “We used the fossil record to show, in a concrete, convincing way, that what is happening in the modern oceans is really different from what has happened in the past.”

Authors has found that the modern era is quite unique in the extent to which the creatures were having larger body sizes. They were preferentially targeted for extinction. Payne adding to the same says, “What our analysis shows is that for every factor of 10 increase in body mass, the odds of being threatened by extinction go up by a factor of 13 or so. Bigger you are, the more likely you are to be facing extinction.”

Selective extinction of the large-bodied animals can seriously affect the consequences for health of marine ecosystems. As they are tending to be at the tops of food webs and their further movements through the water column and seafloor is further helping to cycle the nutrients through the oceans.

Judy Skog who is a program director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences were funded for research. Their findings should be incorporated into decisions regarding how we manage the oceanic resources like fisheries.

Further adding Skog says, “These results show that larger marine animals are poised to disappear from the seas faster than smaller ones. Studies of the fossil record indicate that this trend didn’t exist in the past – it’s a new development in today’s world.”

Examination of various marine animals

Though these researchers have not examined why large modern marine animals are at higher risk of extinction. Yet their findings are consistent with the growing body of scientific literature which is pointing to humans which are main culprits.

Matthew Knope who is a former postdoc in Payne’s lab and is now an assistant professor of biology from University of Hawai at Hilo adding to the same says, “It is consistent with the tendency for fisheries to first exploit larger species and subsequently move down the food web and target smaller species.”

Even on land we have seen patterns. There is evidences that ancient humans were responsible for the massacre of mammoths and other megafauna across the globe.

Helm adding to the same says, “We see this over and over again. Humans enter into a new ecosystem, and the largest animals are killed off first. Marine systems have been spared up till now, because until recently, humans were restricted to coastal areas and didn’t have technology to fish in deep ocean on an industrial scale.”

Its yet time for the humans to change their behavior. As we can’t do much to quickly reverse this whole process of ocean warming or ocean acidification. It is proving to be real threats which needs to be addressed. We can change treaties about how we can hunt fishes. We can turn around this situation quickly only by proper management decisions over the national and international levels.

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