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June 2021

The sixth mass extinction: A few hundred years of man-made decline in biodiversity require millions of years of recovery - international study led by Giessen University

Lake Volvi in Greece is temporarily drying up due to excessive irrigation for agriculture combined with climate change - one of many examples of a freshwater system under human pressure. Photo: JLU / C. Albrecht

While the extinction rate during the fifth mass extinction was already considerably higher than previously assumed for freshwater biota, it is clearly exceeded by the predicted future extinction rate of the current sixth mass extinction. On average, the predicted extinction rate was about a thousand times what it was during the dinosaur extinction. A third of all living freshwater species may have disappeared as early as 2120.

Neubauer, T.A., Hauffe, T., Silvestro, D. et al. Current extinction rate in European freshwater gastropods greatly exceeds that of the late Cretaceous mass extinction. Commun Earth Environ 2, 97 (2021).

For more information:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Wilke, Systematics and Biodiversity