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, 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 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.  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, 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 (12)
  • billiem-1-bar
    11/30/2015 - 07:06 p.m.

    Scientists have not known how many tree species were threatened until now, because no on has ever taken the time to finish the study. Scientists have collected data on every tree species in the amazon and now we can make better decisions. I found this article interesting because its cool how they can find one single species and find out how to protect the other trees.

  • lilyg-2-bar
    12/01/2015 - 06:04 p.m.

    Scientists have not known how many species of trees are threatened in the Amazon, until now because they had not done this study."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." Scientists explain how much this helped them. This is interesting because I never knew how many trees were going away.

  • katelynnm1-hor
    12/02/2015 - 02:56 p.m.

    I think the authors purpose is to inform the public about what is in the rainforest and what is dying that we need. I learned that the rainforest has a lot of animals in it that we need to help save lives also plants that we need. I agere with the author because he is saying to stop cutting down the tress and to stop killing the animals

  • carsonk-2-bar
    12/02/2015 - 07:42 p.m.

    The scientists may not have known before because of the fact that they did not test it. "The 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." This article is very interesting because its sad to see so many species go downhill with their population. This article surprised me because I did not think that there were so many trees being threatened into extinction.

  • matthewc-hor
    12/02/2015 - 08:25 p.m.

    The author's purpose is to explain how the Amazon Forest trees that produce Brazil nuts and mahogany wood are becoming extinct. The author explains that due to deforestation, or the cutting down of trees, they are threatened by extinction and in fact the tree that produces mahogany is already not being harvested because there are so few of them. I do agree with the authors opinion because if we do not begin to save the trees that are becoming extinct now it will be too late and they will not be there later on in time.

  • josepht-2-bar
    12/03/2015 - 01:08 a.m.

    Scientists did not know how many species are in threat before because no one took the time to finish the study. It says here "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." I find it interesting because I never knew that, that many trees are being threatened.

  • matthewp-6-bar
    12/03/2015 - 08:30 p.m.

    Scientist have not known how many species are threatened in the Amazon until now because scientist had never done the examination of the Amazon's trees. This is shown by,"A first-of-its-kind examination of the Amazon's trees found that as many as half the species may be threatened with extinction." My opinion about this article is people need to start trying to make more of an effort to stop cutting down the trees into extinction.If we do not try then the next generation is going to be left with much less species and types of trees.

  • saray-hor
    12/04/2015 - 10:43 a.m.

    I think the authors purpose of writing this article is to inform us with information about why and how the amazon rainforest is loosing the trees. Also, to inform us about the experiment the scientists are doing to prove it to the world. I have learned from the article that between 36 and 57 percent of the 16,000 tree species in the tropical rainforest area would be considered threatened. I agree with the opinions stated in the article. I agree because one of the opinions stated " We've never had a good idea of how many species are threatened in the amazon" because without trees we wouldn't be here today. In conclusion, I agree with the authors purpose, and the opinions!

  • reidi-4-bar
    12/10/2015 - 08:30 p.m.

    A first of its kind examination of the Amazon's trees found that as much as half the species may be threatened with extinction. In the next 35 years or so 36% to 56% of the tree population will be threatened. I think that it is sad that the trees could potentially be dying and at an alarming rate.

  • bmeye-wim
    12/11/2015 - 02:07 p.m.

    We today as society should grow a tree anywhere that is suitable for the seed. Even though the small seed will take years and years to grow, the small seed will touch the skies. We people depend on trees for some of our oxygen in the air. If we don't start now, the next century will be living in bad air. we need to start sooner because it will allow us to keeping living.

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