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Holocene Extinction Event – Significant Increases in Rates of Extinction During the Holocene Epoch

written by: •edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 7/7/2008

We are currently living in a state known as the Holocene epoch, where extinction rates of species have been increasing and causing a reason for concern. Are we doing enough to stop or slow down extinction?

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    The Holocene Extinction event is an ongoing, widespread kind of event of extinction of certain species during a phase of the Holocene epoch. Some of the species included in this extinction event include plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, arthropods and reptiles. A good portion of the extinction of these species was occurring in the rain forest areas, which has been a topic of concern among ecologists for years. Rain forests have been ruined at increasing rates, and it only makes sense that a lot of the species becoming extinct are living in those regions.

    This extinction event is sometimes referred to as the sixth extinction event that followed five previous extinction events that have been documented. It is estimated that during the past century, between 20,000 to two million different species have become extinct. The exact total is hard to determine due to limitations on methods of determining the numbers.

    Whatever the numbers may be for extinction of species over the past years, there has been an increased rate of extinction in the past fifty years. Plant life has also been effected by the increase of extinction. Though it had been previously thought plant species were not as affected as animal species.

    The rate of extinction is estimated at anywhere between 100 and 1000 times that of previous extinction rates, which is a drastic increase since evolutionary times of the earth. Megafaunal extinctions are continuing to be a concern and additionally, human causes are becoming one of the most contributing factors in the rate of extinction.

    With all of the threats and risks of extinction that exist, there are those who hope that we can do something to slow down the rates of extinction and begin to decrease the risks into the future. It is said that by properly learning how to manage our ecological and environmental resources, we can be proactive to slow down the rates of extinction, while others hold on to the view that there is too much damage already done to the environment that will prohibit any future deceleration. Still, there are the hopes that through increased conservation methods and practices we can at least try to even out the score and not increase the rate of extinction of species.

    Perhaps we will not be able to eliminate the occurrence of extinction of species, but we can possibly slow it down.