Earth System Trend

Terrestrial Biosphere Degradation

UNIT: Percentage

Thousands of species of animal, plant and microorganism are either extinct or dying out. Entire ecosystems are being destroyed. Some scientists say Earth is approaching mass extinction rates. In the past this has often been caused by a massive external event like the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time, one species is responsible: humans.

Graph Caption: Percentage loss of terrestrial mean species abundance relative to abundance in undisturbed ecosystems as an approximation for degradation of the terrestrial biosphere.
Source: R. Alkemade, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency: modelled mean species abundance using GLOBIO3 based on HYDE reconstructed historical land-use change estimates (until 1990) then IMAGE model estimates (Alkemade et al. 2009,, ten Brink et al., 2010).

Caption: Large-scale deforestation in the Amazon Basin
Source: Google Earth
Map Caption: Biodiversity Hotspots - A Biodiversity Hotspots is a region meeting two strict criteria: it must contain at least 0.5% or 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation.
Map Credit: FĂ©lix Pharand-DeschĂȘnes, / Conservation International/Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund,