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 with extinction or heading that way because of massive deforestation. Among the more than 5,000 tree species in deep trouble: the ones that produce Brazil nuts and mahogany.
 
An international team of 158 scientists found that depending on the degree to which deforestation comes under control in the next 35 years, between 36 and 57 percent of the 16,000 tree species in the tropical rainforest area would be considered threatened. Their 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 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 if nations are able to cut back as planned, said study co-author Nigel Pitman 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, said Tim Killeen, a scientist from Agteca Amazonica in Bolivia. But 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, while "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, who was not part of the study, praised the work as sensible and important.

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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 (10)
  • erino-6-bar
    12/01/2015 - 01:41 a.m.

    Scientists did not know the amount of species in the Amazon that as going extinct until very recently because they had never done an examination. The article said that is was "A first-of-its-kind examination" showing that any research that has been done previously was done to a lesser degree than this and did not reach accurate conclusions.

    I was surprised that with the amount of species going extinct the deforestation rate didn't drop drastically since the examination. I was also startled to learn that in the next 35 years a significant portion, 36-57 percent, of all tree species in the Amazon will be considered threatened and at risk of going extinct.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    12/02/2015 - 12:44 p.m.

    They could never run the tests they needed to to get this information but now that they know, they can do more specific things to save the species.

  • oliviaw-4-bar
    12/04/2015 - 10:20 a.m.

    The number of species threatened by deforestation in the Amazon has been indefinite to scientists and researchers in the past as no examination has ever been conducted. As a researcher in the article states, "We've never had a good idea of how many species are threatened in the Amazon[...]Now with this study, we have an estimate." This statement gives insight into the fact that this examination is a "first-of-its-kind" as the article puts it.

    I was quite disturbed at the number of species threatened by this deforestation. Many of these species will become extremely endangered or even extinct. The thought of these innocent creatures dying and struggling as a result of human consumerism really raises questions in my mind as to what else our growing industries are affecting.

  • briannec-ste
    12/07/2015 - 03:23 p.m.

    People cutting down the trees is the problem, the trees are perfectly fine. But cutting down the trees is also making animals lose their habitat.

  • jordanb-pay
    12/08/2015 - 10:43 a.m.

    This isn't good, I always knew that from the moment man started cutting down tree instead of living in the ground, we'd lose all our trees like Easter Island, or not hopefully.

  • jennelw-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:17 a.m.

    This was not an area of concern until now. But when we have cut down all the trees and the animals have no where to live were going to worry.

  • maselic-pay
    12/08/2015 - 12:35 p.m.

    well they might have not know because they was not really paying any attention to them.so now that they are doing stuff they can understand and know whats going on.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    12/09/2015 - 09:25 p.m.

    I think that people shouldn't be cutting down too many trees. The Amazon forest is losing a lot of different types of tree species. The tree species might also be extinct if people keep cutting down a lot of trees. Many scientists have examined the Amazon forest and have an estimation about how many different types of tree species are threatened. I think that it is good that the scientists are caring for the trees and investigating how many trees are threatened. It will be better if people care for the environment around them and also care for the trees.

  • willaw-rom
    2/25/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    Its pretty sad that the trees are being cut down.And since deforestation is happening many animal are also going extinct because they depend on the plants food and they need to build their homes in the trees too.


    There was also a informational thing about plants.They said that if all the plants were gone humans and animals will be gone too because they grow their own food and they get eaten by animals like deer and then they get eating and they eat their decomposed bodies which gets eaten by fish and shrimp and then we fish them or hunt them. So either way you look at itwe all depend on plant.

  • larynf-rom
    2/29/2016 - 02:47 p.m.

    STOP THE DEFORESTATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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