September 11, 2014
The great tinamou is an evolutionary-distinct
bird that declines in farmland but
thrives in tropical rainforest.
Habitat destruction significantly reduces the incidence of evolutionarily distinct species, a long-term study in Costa Rica has revealed. The research suggests alternative land-use practices that sustain farming and biodiversity.
As humans transform the planet to meet our needs, all sorts of wildlife continue to be pushed aside, including many species that play key roles in Earth's life-support systems. In particular, the transformation of forests into agricultural lands has dramatically reduced biodiversity around the world.
A new study by scientists at Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, in this week's issue of Science shows that evolutionarily distinct species suffer most heavily in intensively farmed areas. They also found, however, that an extraordinary amount of evolutionary history is sustained in diversified farming systems, which outlines a strategy for balancing agricultural activity and conservation efforts.