Amazon forests may lose thousands of tree species Specimens from the Brazil nut, Lecythidacene family, are displayed inside the Herbarium at The New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx borough of New York. () (AP Photo/Ed Bailey/File/Thinkstock)
Amazon forests may lose thousands of tree species
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A first-of-its-kind examination of the Amazon's trees found that as many as half the species may be threatened. They could go extinct. Or they could be heading that way. It is because of massive deforestation. More than 5,000 tree species are in deep trouble. Included are the ones that produce Brazil nuts and mahogany.
 
An international team of 158 scientists examined the trees. The scientists found that between 36 and 57 percent of the 16,000 tree species in the tropical rainforest area would be considered threatened. The actual number depends on the degree to which deforestation comes under control. That is over the next 35 years. The scientists' study is published in Science Advances.
 
The range rests on whether cutting down the region's forest continues at the rate of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Or whether it slows down to lesser levels proposed in 2006, study authors said. If deforestation continues at the same pace, nearly 8,700 tree types are in trouble. But the number of species at risk could be as low as 5,500. That is if nations are able to cut back as planned. This is according to study co-author Nigel Pitman. He is from the Field Museum in Chicago.
 
"We've never had a good idea of how many species are threatened in the Amazon," Pitman said. "Now with this study, we have an estimate."
 
About 15 years ago, the Amazon was losing about 11,600 square miles of forest a year. That is according to Tim Killeen. He is a scientist from Agteca Amazonica in Bolivia. That figure has dropped to about 3,800 square miles a year, he said.
 
Killeen said the tree that produces Brazil nuts is seriously under threat.  And "mahogany is commercially extinct throughout the Amazon." He said that means there's no more industry harvesting the wood. But some trees exist.
 
Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm praised the work as sensible and important. He was not part of the study.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why have scientists not known how many species are threatened in the Amazon, until now?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (38)
  • giovanni-hym
    12/01/2015 - 01:46 p.m.

    2 Thing I learned was that 15 years ago the amazon was losing about 11,600 square miles of trees evrey 12 months. That has droped about 3,800 miles a year.

  • christopher-hym
    12/01/2015 - 01:52 p.m.

    I learned that there is 16,000 different tree species. I also learned that 15 years ago the Amazon rainforest lost about 11,600 square miles every year.

    • isaiah-hym
      12/02/2015 - 02:52 p.m.

      1) I leaned that 15 years ago the Amazon was loosing 11,600 miles of forest.
      2)I learned that scientist found that between 36-57 percent of the 16,000 trees in the rain forest would be considered threatened.

  • hannah-hym
    12/01/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    Two facts that I learned from reading this article fact #1 more than 5,000 tree species are in big trouble! #2 15 years ago the Amazon was losing 11,600 square miles of a forest each year! Those were two facts that I learned.

  • alexian-bel
    12/01/2015 - 02:02 p.m.

    They might have a estimate but know they now how many there now.

  • lindsayt-bel
    12/01/2015 - 02:04 p.m.

    Now they have the technology to be able to.

  • jolenec-bel
    12/01/2015 - 02:05 p.m.

    They didn't know becouse there wasnt as technology back then than now.

  • sophies-bel
    12/01/2015 - 02:06 p.m.

    Probley because they weren't tracking them until now so they didn't know.

  • kayliana-hym
    12/01/2015 - 02:07 p.m.

    1.the amozon trees can be extinct .
    2.some trees like the amozon tree exist in the real world.
    3.amozon trees and other trees may get threatened.
    Those are the 2 things that I learned in this article well I maybe learned one more thing.

  • mary-hym
    12/01/2015 - 02:08 p.m.

    I think the scientists didn't know how many species of trees were treatened in the Amazon because they've never had a good idea of of many kinds of different trees were threatened, but now because of the study the now have a good estimation.

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