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 they could be heading that way.  It is because of massive deforestation. Among the more than 5,000 tree species in deep trouble 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 in 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 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, said 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, said 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 (69)
  • annabel1226-yyca
    11/30/2015 - 07:28 p.m.

    Noooo, I don't want to lose thousands of trees species. We have to save those trees. I hope that scientists could find some results to save the trees. Think about will happen if you lose 1000 of trees. The air won't be fresh and clean. The air will be all polluted in amazon. Do you want to live in the filthy place with all lot of pollution that you might die? I really hope that we won't able to lose the trees.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    11/30/2015 - 09:49 p.m.

    I think this is good to know because we can do something about it. The main cause for this is mass deforestation. This is terrible because it contributes to global warming, causes animals to go extinct, and causes trees to go extinct. We have to significantly reduce the number of trees being cut. Everyone has to contribute since this will affect everyone.
    Why have scientists not known how many species are threatened in the Amazon, until now?
    Scientists have not know how many species are threatened in the Amazon until now because this is the first-of-its-kind examination.

  • jahir-orv
    11/30/2015 - 10:35 p.m.

    I don't understand why people keep on cutting down trees, it's really sad because these people must obviously not realize that they are destroying homes or habitats of animals and trees themselves. They are killing living organisms.

  • annah-cur
    12/01/2015 - 10:33 a.m.

    because the amazon is so big and its hard to tell how many trees are in trouble

  • stevenh-mci
    12/01/2015 - 11:31 a.m.

    They haven't known that species are going in danger because they haven't been discovered yet.

  • angelo-
    12/01/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    i nevr new that it take that long for a tree to grow I thought that is was like 1 year not 3 to 4

  • joeg-orv
    12/01/2015 - 01:19 p.m.

    The tree cut down rate had dropped a huge amount in the past decade so it wasn't very noticeable. But is slowly built up and over the years it became noticeable. That is when they decided to take the study and they found those results.

  • william1108-yyca
    12/01/2015 - 08:58 p.m.

    I have actually never seen a walnut tree before. I with that I can see one in real life. But 8,700 trees at danger or risk is a lot. Maybe If people try really hard to protect them then maybe there will be less. I would save the trees because trees give air and paper.

  • tyn-2-bar
    12/01/2015 - 09:55 p.m.

    Scientists had known how many species were threatened until now is because the discovery that was made on this investigation was very recent. The date is not given but, since this is "news" and not "olds" it is safe to assume the discovery was made recently.

  • tyn-2-bar
    12/01/2015 - 09:56 p.m.

    I think it is still important to conserve the Amazon for it is one of the most important forests in the world.

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