Guest essay by Jim Steele,director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
Thirty years ago I never would have dreamed I would or could utter the words of my title. As a left-leaning young ecologist, I hated the way Limbaugh painted all environmentalists as “whackos”! I was a strong believer in the Endangered Species Act as a law that would ensure people stopped to consider win-win solutions for humans and all other species. I believed conservation science could guide us toward wise environmental stewardship, and when married to innovative entrepreneurial endeavors, we could build a better world for all. As director of a university environmental field station, I met people of all political persuasions eager to enjoy and protect the environment, and I believed both the left and right would rally around sound environmental science. So why did Rush label us as whackos? I saw Limbaugh’s polarizing polemics as an attack on the environment. But now I must agree with Rush’s recent view that “Apocalyptic, Fear-Mongering Accelerates the Decline of Our Culture”. In his critique of a newly published paper, “Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction” (hereafter Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015), Rush correctly points out that it is just another example of apocalyptic fear mongering that drives some people into hopeless despair, while forcing others to ignore scientists’ steady drone that the end of the world is before us.
As an ecologist I read several papers a week, looking for pearls of wisdom that would make us better stewards of the environment. But Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 offered absolutely nothing new and absolutely nothing useful. They simply created a framework that would dramatize their numbers stating, “Our analysis emphasizes that our global society has started to destroy species of other organisms at an accelerating rate, initiating a mass extinction episode unparalleled for 65 million years.” Started to destroy…??? What are we now doing to suddenly promote mass extinctions?
Indeed more species have likely gone extinct in the past 500 years due to habitat loss, overhunting and invasive species than are known to have gone extinct over the past 400 thousand years, despite the extreme climate shifts between the ice age glacials and warm interglacials. But the bulk of those extinctions were the result of past human actions that are now being rectified. At this essay’s conclusion, I added a table for the first 100 of the 140 extinct bird species from the same IUCN database that Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 used for their paper. Unlike Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015, I included extinction dates and the reason the IUCN has justified their extinction status. Notice that most extinct species inhabited islands where organisms are extremely sensitive to all invasive species. That damage has already been done. So in contrast to claims we are “entering” an era of accelerated mass extinctions, it would be more honest to say humans are now reversing what began 500 years ago.
Most island die-offs began shortly after Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World that encouraged worldwide exploration. Of the 100 extinct birds listed below, three species were extinct in the 1500s, 17 in the 1600s, 18 in the 1700s, 32 in the 1800s, and 30 in the 1900s. Overhunting claimed many island species like the Dodo early on, as hungry sailors and settlers struggled to survive. However a large proportion of recent extinctions happened unintentionally due to introduced rats that stowed away on visiting ships, (or more recently the introduced brown tree snake). Without natural predators, rat populations exploded. So islanders intentionally introduced cats, ferrets and mongoose to kill the rats. But island wildlife had evolved without any threat from land predators, so most species were behaviorally ill adapted to survive the onslaught of these new arrivals. Many island birds evolved flightlessness and explorers reported island species as remarkably tame. Most of the other extinct vertebrate species on the IUCN list suffered a similar fate in the wake of introduced species. Many of the most recent extinctions in the 1900s were simply distressed species succumbing to centuries of depredation from introduced species and lost habitat. Oddly enough, when the Christian Science Monitor hyped Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 with How To Prevent The Sixth Mass Extinction, their only solution was a cure that is much worse than the disease. They resurrected Camille Parmesan’s pitch for widespread introduction of species into new habitats where climate change is predicted to create a more favorable environment. Not only has that remedy always caused disastrous ecological disruptions, but climate models have been notoriously awful about simulating regional climate changes.
The causes of past extinctions have been noted for decades and centuries. Instead of hammering the public with gloom and doom, Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 would have served us better by reporting how extensive recent efforts are saving species. Globally people have been diligently working to prevent further island extinctions. For example, the Aleutian Goose was once believed to be extinct until a few individuals were found on a remote island. The goose had disappeared from all its other breeding islands because fur farmers had introduced arctic and red foxes. Recognizing the problem, humans quickly removed the foxes and the species rebounded immediately (as did many other breeding sea birds). The Aleutian Goose is now so abundant it is considered a pest on its wintering grounds. Similarly worldwide efforts to eradicate introduced “pest” species are reporting various levels of success. For a more hopeful outlook, and to appreciate how human efforts are promoting biodiversity, I suggest visiting the websites of organizations like Island Conservation or reading about successful eradications.
Unconscionably, although most past extinctions, as well as presently endangered species, are found on islands, and despite widespread local efforts that are preventing further island extinctions, Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015’s so-called “science” and self-prmoting press releases are only generating horribly despairing and deceptive headlines proclaiming, “Sixth mass extinction is here: Humanity’s existence threatened.”.
Why didn’t Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 point out productive efforts that are preventing further extinctions? Why not offer real conservation guidance and optimism? It appears they prefer denigrating modern society and promoting apocalyptic fear mongering rather than promoting good conservation and good science. They wrote, “Modern extinction rates have increased sharply over the past 200 years (corresponding to the rise of industrial society) and are considerably higher than background rates”. But suggesting modern industrial society “corresponds” with those extinction is a horrible illusion. A stronger case can be made that industrial society will be wildlife’s savior.
Although the geometric growth of human populations for the past 500 years has undeniably led to increased habitat destruction and overhunting. But population growth may soon plateau and then reverse its growth trend. The “evils” of population growth have been the mainstay of influential apocalyptic predictions from Malthus in the 1700s to Ehrlich in recent decades. In Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb, he warned of the mass starvation in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation. But as Limbaugh noted, Ehrlich’s predictions have failed miserably. So perhaps his “new extinction research” is just an attempt to regain some support for his widely criticized “end of the earth” beliefs. But if Ehrlich is suggesting booming human populations will soon cause the Sixth Mass Extinction, then he has failed to report a more optimistic consensus that our modern industrial society is now reducing population pressures.
Ecologists divide animal reproductive strategies in to 2 broad categories. R-selected species provide little parental care and produce abundant young, anticipating high mortality. In contrast K-selected species produce few young but invest a lot of parental care. Modern industrial societies have encouraged humans to evolve from a R-selected to a K-selected species. Where humans once depended on cheap child labor to operate marginal subsistence farms, there was an economic advantage to having many children. In contrast industrial societies demand greater parental investment and more education, so reproduction is delayed and families are smaller. Furthermore mechanization of agriculture has reduced the demand for abundant cheap labor on marginal farms.
Ecologists calculate that human populations require a fertility rate of 2.1 births per female to offset deaths. A fertility rate below 2.1 causes the population to decline, while a higher fertility rate causes population to grow. In the 1950s, the decade of Baby Boomers, the USA had a fertility rate that averaged 3.7. By 1980 the rate dropped to 1.8. Now due largely to immigration, a slightly higher fertility rate stands at 2.0. Worldwide fertility rates similarly dropped from 2.67 in 1950 to 2.02 in 2000. These lower rates suggest the global human population will soon plateau and then decline. Thus decreasing population pressures will not cause an accelerating extinction rate. These decreasing fertility rates should be a cause for optimism. The graph below color-codes the fertility rates of every nation. Only the non-industrial societies are experiencing the high fertility rates (reds and yellows) that could strain the earth’s carrying capacity and diminish local biodiversity. So why does Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 denigrate modern society?
Habitat loss has indeed been a major cause of local extinctions as burgeoning human populations converted more landscape for agricultural purposes. But better intensive agricultural practices, like mechanization, genetic engineering and other modern techniques, have allowed the world to feed more people on fewer acres. For example according to the USDA since 1950, “the average yield of corn rose from 39 bushels to 153 bushels per acre, and each farmer in 2000 produced on average 12 times as much farm output per hour worked as a farmer did in 1950. Again such improvements should be a cause for pride and optimism, as modern society has increasingly sacrificed less natural habitat for agriculture.
As more marginal farms are abandoned and land is returned to the wild, we would expect to see the return of more natural habitat and indeed this was the case for Vermont. In 1900, Vermont was 80% deforested. As marginal farms were abandoned, Vermont became 80% reforested supporting natural biodiversity. Similar patterns have been observed throughout New England. As marginal farmland became reforested moose migrated southward to warmer regions where they had been extirpated by the 1800s in contrast to global warming theory. Similar reversions to natural habitat were observed throughout the Great Plains. Furthermore land managers and private hunting groups like Ducks Unlimited have been improving species prime breeding habitat in the Prairie Potholes, so that in 2014 North American duck populations had increased to record highs, 43% above the 1950-80 average. But that landscape success story is now being threatened. As politicians become increasingly mesmerized by another apocalyptic story regards climate change, governments are subsidizing biofuels that are increasingly destroying habitat and stress groundwater supplies.
A 2013 paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reported, “High corn and soybean prices, prompted largely by demand for biofuel feedstocks, are driving one of the most important land cover/land use change (LCLUC) events in recent US history; the accelerated conversion of grassland to cropland in the US Corn Belt.” Due to government biofuel subsidies, the rate of grassland conversion has accelerated land conversion rates that have not been seen since the Dust Bowl when wheat subsidies similarly encouraged the plowing under of grasslands the size of the state of Ohio. These researchers noted the landscape conversion is “comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia, countries in which tropical forests were the principal sources of new agricultural land.”
Similarly, tropical deforestation and lost biodiversity has been accelerated by government subsidies for other biofuels. Although palm oil had been chiefly used in foods and cosmetics, the EU began subsidizing palm oil for biofuels in a misguided fight against climate change. European Union subsidies for palm oil raised prices and increased its demand as reported in 2013 in The EU Biofuel Policy And Palm Oil: Cutting Subsidies Or Cutting Rainforest? (see table below). This resulted in widespread deforestation throughout Indonesia that now threatens tropical species like the Orangutans and has been wreaking widespread ecological havoc. Similar subsidies for sugar cane are accelerating deforestation in Brazil.
|EU Palm Oil usage(Metric tones)||2006||2012 – After Subsidies||% increase|
|Used for fuel and electrical generation||822||2459||299.0%|
|Used for foods and cosmetics||3692||3925||06.3%|
Apocalyptic fear mongering about climate change has similarly convinced politicians that burning trees (again eliminating more habitat) is better than burning coal under the guise of “sustainable fuel production”. Early settlers had decimated Great Britain’s forest thousands of years ago to create grazing land for their sheep. But recent conservation efforts were now making this one of the few nations with increasing forests. Unfortunately government subsidies are not only promoting cutting local forests, but those subsidies were creating a demand to import more trees from America and thus destroying distant habitat. Likewise, Haiti has denuded its landscape as it relies on wood burning. While due to its reliance on a fossil fuel economy, the Dominican Republic has preserved more forest. The difference is readily observed below in NASA’s satellite photo of the Haiti (left) and Dominican (right) border.
Whales, walrus and other marine mammals were nearly hunted to extinction during the Little Ice Age for their blubber. But the advent of the oil industry and modern industrial society provided an alternative energy source that reduced that hunting pressure, and likely prevented the extinction of most marine mammals. Although the disruption of industrial economies by two world wars caused a temporary spike in whaling, the recovery of industrial economies once again has alleviated hunting pressures. Gray Whales are now believed to have returned to their historic numbers (see graph below), Humpback Whales are increasing by about 13% a year, and most other species are steadily recovering but at a lower pace.
In contrast to apocalyptic headlines of climate change disruption, observations of large numbers of walruses hauling out on Alaskan beaches are evidence of conservation success as Pacific walruses have rebounded to equal historic numbers as discussed in Hijacking Successful Walrus Conservation. Indeed modern societies have reduced the extinction threats to most marine mammals that were decimated by overhunting for food and fuel. Again modern industrial society should engender optimism about our environment’s future, not elicit catastrophic predictions of mass extinctions.
Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015 suggest we can avoid a sixth mass extinction by alleviating pressures on stressed populations, caused notably by “habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change”. Yet modern society has been increasingly addressing those first 2 problems and there is no evidence that climate change has caused any extinctions. Contrary to climate change fears, since the Little Ice Age, whether or not warming was caused by rising CO2 or natural climate change, that warming has contributed to longer growing seasons which has only benefited the entire food web for all species including humans. Phytoplankton that form the base of the Arctic food web has increased 3 fold. It is beyond all reason that proponents of a CO2 driven apocalypse would suggest that the 1-degree colder temperatures of the Little Ice Age should be revered as the benchmark against which we evaluate our “optimal” climate. During the Little Ice Age upwelling was reduced lowering ocean productivity, glaciers threatened European villages, tree line dropped, and no new trees grew in several montane regions, and there was widespread starvation that the pope blamed on witches.
In his critique of Ceballos and Ehrlich’s 6th mass extinction madness, Limbaugh’s warns that apocalyptic fear mongering is engendering a lack of faith, and lack of hope in our children, and in our society. In a similar vein, science writer Matt Ridley recently wrote in “Climate Wars’ Damage to Science.” that climate fear mongering is even more damaging, denigrating the very scientific process itself. Most striking to me is the lost trustworthiness of the peer review process regards climate science. It seems as if all one has to do is suggest apocalyptic climate change to get published no matter how much contradictory evidence is known.
A blatant example of such damage to science, was the American Meteorological Society’s publication of Parmesan’s half-truths about climate-caused population extinctions, If she had honestly reported the whole story that only butterflies that had recently and opportunistically colonized a logged area had been extirpated, while just ten feet away in natural communities the same species was thriving, her apocalyptic climate interpretation would have been shunned (details here). Instead her story of half-truths was repeated by our top climate scientists in scientific journals as an example of deadly climate change, and the BAMS editors refused to retract her bogus paper. But this is not an isolated incidence. There is a long list of other apocryphal climate catastrophe publications in peer reviewed science.
Camille Parmesan was also one of the earliest authors to suggest climate change was extirpating populations in Climate and Species Range. However after careful perusal of her claims, I documented several fallacies (here) and then learned that many of her purported extirpated populations have now returned (according to her own research). Yet she has never published those more uplifting observations of natural resiliency. Later in an IPCC publication, she misdiagnosed a species’ range expansion in England due to successful conservation efforts in order to blame climate change (details here). Yet despite all of Parmesan’s bad science, she was honored at the White House and became one of a select few biologists invited to join the IPCC. While promoters of apocalyptic climate change have elevated Parmesan to hero status, the only person that publicly challenged her bad science was Rush Limbaugh.
Similarly J.A. Pounds joined the IPCC after publishing in Nature that climate change was causing extreme heat and dryness, which was killing Costa Rica’s amphibians. But other scientists provided overwhelming evidence that the inadvertent introduction of a chytrid fungus by researchers and the pet trade had caused the recent amphibian extinctions. Intensive laboratory studies then revealed that the deadly fungus could not tolerate extreme warmth or dryness, which contradicted all of Pounds’ earlier interpretations. So Pounds simply reversed his position to maintain his apocalyptic climate story, and he now argued global warming was causing cooler maximum temperatures and a wetter environment and therefore climate change was still the killer by enabling the deadly fungus. The editors at Nature never demanded that Pounds explain his contrary interpretations. As long as apocalyptic climate change was suggested, it got published (details here). While other scientists rallied to save threatened amphibians, Pounds attacked them for not blaming apocalyptic climate change.
Nature published other apocalyptic papers suggesting the imminent extinction of Emperor Penguins. Researchers blamed global warming despite the fact that there had been no warming trend at the site where the population of Emperors had declined. The most likely culprit causing lower Penguin numbers was researcher disturbance during brutal winter conditions (details here), but recent papers continue to suggest global warming was the cause to infer mass extinctions will happen by the turn of the century.
Despite the Inuit insistence that it is the time of the most polar bears, or the fact that researchers have documented increasing populations, polar bears have been elevated to icons of apocalyptic climate change. In another blatant example of editors “looking the other way” and defiling the scientific process, researchers first published that cycles of heavy sea ice in the Beaufort Sea had caused significant drops in ringed seals and polar bears. Then to support the apocalyptic meme, the same researchers published that those same populations declines were due to global warming and less ice (details here).
Pika are rabbit like creatures living in the mountainous western USA. Erik Beever published that pika were experiencing accelerated upslope dispersal and extinction due to climate change. But Beever admittedly eliminated all observations of pika moving to lower elevations. Although his statistical tinkering guaranteed “upslope movement” no matter how the climate changed, the editors considered this “good science.” In contrast more extensive surveys by other researchers have shown that 19% of all pika detections have been at lower elevations than first reported in the early 1900s. Nonetheless several papers and websites only report Dr. Beever’s interpretation of climate change, apocalyptically driving pika upwards and into extinction. (more details here)
When Limbaugh argues that apocalyptic fear mongering is the liberal rage, I thought Rush was overreacting via his political ideology. But after reading the conclusions of Ceballos and Ehrlich 2015, I realized Ehrlich’s paper was not about biology or good conservation, but just a vehicle to promote their politics. Ehrlich concluded, “Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species and to alleviate pressures on their populations…. All of these are related to human population size and growth, which increases consumption (especially among the rich), and economic inequity (6). [emphasis added] However, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”
That gave me a better understanding of Limbaugh’s perspective. Although I have yet to see Rush take a pro-environmental stance, his arguments are not anti-environment. He is railing against the political corruption of environmental science, something I have sadly observed (see above). He is fighting against those who misuse the Endangered Species Act to promote their politics. He is ranting against apocalyptic fear mongering that robs science of its objectivity and integrity, and robs people of hope in order to promote an agenda.
Yet apocalyptic fear mongering is powerfully persuasive. It has empowered a diverse menagerie of cult leaders through out the ages as those who preach about the apocalypse are eerily seen as humanity’s saviors. Mesmerized followers relinquish there critical thinking powers and anoint their leader as the bearer of all truth. Anyone who thinks for themselves, rejects an inevitable apocalypse, or exposes the bad science of fear mongering, are called deniers by a legion of ignorant but rabid internet stalkers (as exemplified here). I am reminded of the Heaven’s Gate cult that believed the world was coming to an end, and would soon be “recycled”. Several highly intelligent high tech workers embraced their leader’s apocalyptic vision, believing the path to salvation was to castrate themselves and drink the “kool-ade”, so they could be transported by an alien spaceship hiding behind the approaching Hale-Bopp comet and swept away to a “higher level.”
Once you believe the world is coming to an end, once you lose faith in humanity and nature’s resilience, once you lose hope, then like the Heaven’s Gate victims, you become easy prey for the charlatans that inhabit all walks of life, left or right, scientist or layperson. Indeed “Apocalyptic, Fear-Mongering Accelerates the Decline of Our Culture”.
Jim Steele is director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
|100 Extinct Bird Species from Ceballos 2015|
|Genus||Species||IUCN justification||Extinct Date|
|1||Aegolius||gradyi||This raptor was recently-described from fossil records, and likely accounts for observations of owls on Bermuda in the early 17th century. It is long Extinct.||1600s|
|2||Alectroenas||nitidissimus||This species was found on Mauritius, but it has been hunted to extinction. The last reports date from 1832 and it is thought to have been Extinct a few years later.||1832|
|3||Alectroenas||payandeei||This newly-recognised Extinct pigeon is known from a single subfossil record. It may have survived into the 17th century but most likely disappeared by the 1690s owing to predation by invasive rats.||1600s|
|4||Alopecoenas||ferrugineus||This species is known from Tanna, Vanuatu, but the only record dates from 1774 and it is now Extinct. Hunting is likely to have been the main cause||1774|
|5||Alopecoenas||salamonis||This species was known from Makira, Solomon Islands, but is now Extinct as a result of predation by introduced species. The last record is a specimen dating from 1927, and searches in 1995 and more recently failed to find it.||1927|
|6||Alopochen||kervazoi||This species was endemic to the island of Réunion, but is now Extinct. The last record came from 1671-1672, and it had been lost to hunting by 1710.||1710|
|7||Alopochen||mauritiana||This species was endemic to Mauritius, but is now Extinct. It was last recorded in 1693, when it was said to be rare, and could not be found in 1698. Hunting is thought to have caused its extinction||1693|
|8||Amazona||martinicana||This species formerly occurred on Martinique, but it has been driven to extinction by hunting. The last record dates from 1779 and it is thought to have gone Extinct by the end of the 18th century.||1779|
|9||Amazona||violacea||This species was known from Guadeloupe, but it has been driven Extinct by hunting. The last records date from 1779.||1779|
|10||Anas||marecula||This species was found on Amsterdam Island, French Southern Territories, but it is now Extinct having not been seen since 1793. Hunting was the main cause of its extinction.||1793|
|11||Anas||theodori||This species was found on Mauritius, but is now Extinct having not been recorded since 1696. Hunting is likely to have caused its extinction.||1696|
|12||Anthornis||melanocephala||This species was found in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, but it is now Extinct, probably mainly as a result of habitat loss. It was last recorded in 1906, and a search for it in 1938 was unsuccessful.||1906|
|13||Aphanapteryx||bonasia||This species was known from Mauritius, but went Extinct around 1693 due to cat predation and hunting.||1693|
|14||Aplonis||corvina||This species was known from the island of Kosrae, Micronesia, but it is now Extinct due to overpredation by introduced rats. The last specimens were taken in 1828, and it was absent when the island was next visited in 1880.||1828|
|15||Aplonis||fusca||This species was formerly found on the Australian islands of Norfolk and Lord Howe, but it is now Extinct owing to black rat predation. The last record was of the nominate subspecies on Norfolk Island in 1923; it was certainly gone by the time the island was visited in 1968.||1923|
|16||Aplonis||mavornata||This taxon was known from Mauke, Cook Islands, but it is now Extinct due to overpredation by introduced brown rats. The type specimen was taken in 1825, and the species was not found on the next ornithological visit to Mauke in 1975.||1975?|
|17||Ara||tricolor||This species was known from Cuba, but hunting drove the population Extinct. The last reports of the species date from 1885.||1885|
|18||Atlantisia||podarces||This species was known from St Helena, but is now Extinct. It was presumably driven to extinction by hunting soon after the island was discovered in 1502.||1502|
|19||Bermuteo||avivorus||This raptor was recently-described from fossil records, and is thought to relate to raptors observed on Bermuda in 1603. It is long Extinct.||1603|
|20||Bowdleria||rufescens||This species was formerly found on the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, but is thought to have gone Extinct around 1892 when the last specimen was collected. Habitat destruction and invasive species were probably the major causes.||1892|
|21||Bulweria||bifax||This species was endemic to the island of St Helena, but is thought to have been hunted to extinction shortly after the island’s discovery in 1502.||1502|
|22||Cabalus||modestus||This species was known from the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, but became Extinct between 1893 and 1895. It is thought that invasive species are responsible, both through direct predation and habitat modification.||1895|
|23||Caloenas||maculata||The one specimen of this poorly-known species may have come from Tahiti, French Polynesia, but it has not been reported there since 1928, when the only possible sightings of the species were made. It is presumed Extinct, and is likely to have been hunted.||1928|
|24||Camptorhynchus||labradorius||This species was formerly distributed along the northeast coast of North America, but it is now Extinct as a result of hunting. There are no records since the collection of the last specimen, in 1875.||1875|
|25||Caracara||lutosa||This species was endemic to Guadalupe Island, Mexico, but has been driven Extinct due to persecution by settlers. It was last recorded in 1903.||1903|
|26||Chaetoptila||angustipluma||This species was known from the Hawaiian Islands, USA, but it has not been recorded since a specimen was collected in 1859. It was driven Extinct by the logging of its forest habitat.||1859|
|27||Chaunoproctus||ferreorostris||This species was known from Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, but it is now Extinct and has not been certainly reported since 1828. Forest destruction and predation by introduced species are thought to have been responsible.||1828|
|28||Chenonetta||finschi||This Extinct species is now thought to have survived beyond the year 1500 and has thus been assessed for the first time.||1500|
|29||Chloridops||kona||This species was known from the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, USA, but it has not been recorded since 1894 and is now Extinct. Logging of its forest habitat is likely to have been the primary cause.||1894|
|30||Chlorostilbon||bracei||This species is known from the island of New Providence, Bahamas, but has been driven to extinction by human disturbance. A specimen was taken in 1877 and it was probably Extinct soon afterwards: subsequent collectors found no trace of it.||1877|
|31||Chlorostilbon||elegans||This taxon is known from one specimen, probably from Jamaica, taken in 1860. It is now Extinct, likely due to deforestation or predation by introduced species.||1860|
|32||Ciridops||anna||This species is known from Hawaii’s Big Island, USA, but it is now Extinct due to logging of its forest habitat. The last confirmed records date from 1892.||1892|
|33||Coenocorypha||barrierensis||This species was extirpated from its historic range by introduced mammalian predators; it was last recorded in 1870 and is classified as Extinct.||1870|
|34||Coenocorypha||iredalei||This species has been extirpated from its historic range in New Zealand by introduced mammalian predators; it was last recorded in 1964 and is classified as Extinct.||1964|
|35||Colaptes||oceanicus||This woodpecker was recently-described from subfossil remains. It is likely to have persisted into the 17th century, but is long Extinct.||1600s|
|36||Columba||jouyi||This species was formerly found in Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, but it has not been recorded since 1936 and is now Extinct. The reasons for this are unknown.||1936|
|37||Columba||thiriouxi||This Extinct species has been newly-described from subfossil remains. It is little-known but probably became extinct around 1730 as a result of overhunting, predation by rats, and deforestation.||1730|
|38||Columba||versicolor||This species was found in Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, but it has not been recorded since 1889 and is now Extinct. Habitat clearance is likely to have been the major factor driving its extinction.||1889|
|39||Conuropsis||carolinensis||This species formerly occurred in southeastern USA, but it is now Extinct, primarily as a result of persecution. The last wild records are of the subspecies ludoviciana in 1910.||1910|
|40||Coturnix||novaezelandiae||This species formerly occurred on New Zealand’s South Island, but is now Extinct, probably due to diseases spread by introduced game birds. A bird that died in 1875 is thought to represent the last individual of the species.||1875|
|41||Coua||delalandei||This species was endemic to Madagascar, but is now Extinct. It has not been reported since 1834 and likely succumbed to the complete destruction of its native forest.||1834|
|42||Cyanoramphus||ulietanus||This species was known from the island of Raiatea, French Polynesia, but it is now Extinct, probably as a result of habitat clearance or the action of invasive species. Two specimens were collected in 1773 and its extinction likely followed||1793|
|43||Cyanoramphus||zealandicus||This species was known from Tahiti, French Polynesia, but it has not been recorded since 1844 and is now Extinct. Possible causes include deforestation, hunting and predation by introduced species.||1844|
|44||Diaphorapteryx||hawkinsi||This species was known from the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, but is now Extinct as a result of hunting. It is thought to have persisted until at least 1895, when it was described in a letter.||1895|
|45||Drepanis||funerea||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, USA, but it has not been recorded since 1907 and is now Extinct. Predation and habitat destruction by invasive species were the major factors causing its extinction.||1907|
|46||Drepanis||pacifica||This species is known from the Hawaiian Islands, USA, but it has not been recorded since 1898 and is now Extinct. Habitat destruction was probably the major cause of its extinction.||1898|
|47||Dromaius||baudinianus||This species was formerly found on Kangaroo Island, Australia, but is now considered Extinct. It has not been recorded since its collection in 1802, and is thought to have succumbed to hunting pressure some years before the arrival of permanent settlers in 1836.||1836|
|48||Dromaius||minor||This species was formerly found on King Island, Australia, but is now considered Extinct. It was last recorded in 1802, and had been exterminated through hunting by 1805.||1805|
|49||Dryolimnas||augusti||This recently-described, probably flightless rail was likely driven Extinct in the late 17th century as a result of hunting pressure and predation by introduced rats and cats.
his recently-described, probably flightless rail was likely driven Extinct in the late 17th century as a result of hunting pressure and predation by introduced rats and cats
|50||Dysmorodrepanis||munroi||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, USA, but it has not been recorded since 1918 and is now Extinct. Habitat clearance and introduced predators were responsible for its decline.||1918|
|51||Eclectus||infectus||This recently-described parrot may have survived as recently as the late 18th century, but became Extinct most likely as a result of over-hunting and predation by invasive mammals.||1700s|
|52||Ectopistes||migratorius||his species was formerly distributed across North America, but is now Extinct as a result of habitat clearance and hunting. The last reliable wild record dates from 1900, and a search beginning in 1910 failed to find it.||1890s|
|53||Erythromachus||leguati||This species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius, but is now Extinct as a result of hunting. It was last recorded in 1726, and its absence was noted in 1761||1761|
|54||Falco||duboisi||his species was endemic to the island of Réunion, but is now Extinct and has not been recorded since 1671-1672. Persecution is likely to have driven its decline.||1672|
|55||Fregilupus||varius||This species was known from the island of Réunion, but it became Extinct in the 1850s. Introduced disease and various forms of human disturbance are likely to have contributed to its decline.||1850s|
|56||Fulica||newtonii||This species was found in the Mascarene Islands, but it has not been recorded since 1693 and is now Extinct. Hunting was the major cause of its decline.||1693|
|57||Gallinula||nesiotis||This species is likely to have become Extinct in the late 19th century as a result of predation by rats, though this may have been in combination with feral cat and pig predation, habitat destruction and hunting by islanders.||1800s|
|58||Gerygone||insularis||This species was endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia, but was driven Extinct by the depredations of introduced rats. It was last recorded in 1928, with none found on a survey in 1936.||1936|
|59||Haematopus||meadewaldoi||This species was found in the eastern Canary Islands, but is now Extinct due to overharvesting of its invertebrate prey. It was last collected in 1913, and locally reported to be absent by the 1940s||1940s|
|60||Hemignathus||ellisianus||This species was found in the Hawaiian Islands, USA, but it is now Extinct as a result of forest clearance and introduced disease. The last report was of the subspecies stejnegeri on Kaua’i in 1969||1969|
|61||Hemignathus||obscurus||This species was known from Hawaii’s Big Island, USA, but it has not been reported since 1940 and is now Extinct. Deforestation and introduced diseases are likely to have been responsible||1940|
|62||Hemignathus||sagittirostris||This species is known from Hawaii’s Big Island, USA, but it has not been recorded since 1901 and is now Extinct. Most of its habitat was cleared for agriculture, which is likely to have caused the extinction.||1901|
|63||Heteralocha||acutirostris||This species is known from New Zealand’s North Island, but it was last recorded in 1907 and is now Extinct. Habitat loss, hunting and disease have all been implicated in its decline.||1907|
|64||Hypotaenidia||dieffenbachii||This species was found on the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, but was driven to extinction by the depredations of introduced species. The type material was collected in 1840, and it was Extinct by 1872.||1872|
|65||Hypotaenidia||pacifica||This species was known from the Society Islands, French Polynesia, but has been driven Extinct by cat and rat predation. It was last recorded on Mehetia in the 1930s||1930s|
|66||Hypotaenidia||poeciloptera||This species was found in Fiji, but it has not been recorded since 1973 and is now Extinct. Predation by introduced cats and mongooses is thought to have been responsible for its decline.||1973|
|67||Hypotaenidia||wakensis||This species was known from Wake Island in the United States Minor Outlying Islands, but went Extinct in the mid-1940s, being last recorded in 1945 and never seen by an observer who took up residence in 1946. It is thought to have been hunted to extinction by Japanese soldiers that were stranded on the island.||1945|
|68||Ixobrychus||novaezelandiae||This species was known from New Zealand’s South Island, but became Extinct for unknown reasons some time in the 1890s.||1890s|
|69||Lophopsittacus||bensoni||This species was known from Mauritius, but hunting has driven it Extinct. It was last reported in 1764.||1764|
|70||Lophopsittacus||mauritianus||This species is known from Mauritius, but has been driven Extinct by hunting pressure. The last records date from 1673-1675, and it was absent in 1693.||1693|
|71||Mascarenotus||grucheti||This species formerly occurred on the island of Réunion. It was probably driven Extinct after the island was colonised in the early 17th century, as a result of habitat loss, hunting or predation by invasive species.||1600s|
|72||Mascarenotus||murivorus||This species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius, but is now Extinct due to logging of its habitat. It was last recorded in 1726.||1726|
|73||Mascarenotus||sauzieri||This species was formerly found on Mauritius, but the logging of its forest habitat has driven it to extinction. It was last recorded in 1837, and certainly Extinct by 1859.||1837|
|74||Mascarinus||mascarin||This species was known from the island of Réunion, but it has gone Extinct as a result of hunting pressure. The last record of wild birds dates from 1775, and none were observed on a visit in 1804.||1804|
|75||Mergus||australis||This species was formerly found on the Auckland Islands, New Zealand, but it is now Extinct, primarily due to hunting. It was last recorded in 1902, and had been lost by the time a reserve was set up on the islands in 1910.||1902|
|76||Microgoura||meeki||This species is known from Choiseul, Solomon Islands, but it has not been recorded since 1904 and is now Extinct. It is likely to have been heavily predated by introduced dogs and cats.||1904|
|77||Moho||apicalis||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, USA, but is now Extinct as a result of habitat loss and introduced disease. The last record dates from 1837, and it was not found by the collectors that visited the island in the 1890s||1837|
|78||Moho||bishopi||This species was formerly found in the Hawaiian Islands, USA, but it has not been recorded since 1981 and is now considered Extinct. Habitat loss was probably the primary cause of its decline.||1981|
|79||Moho||braccatus||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, USA, but it is now Extinct having been last recorded in 1987. Habitat destruction and invasive species were the major causes.||1987|
|80||Moho||nobilis||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, USA, but it is now Extinct having been last recorded in 1987. Habitat destruction and invasive species were the major causes.||1987|
|81||Mundia||elpenor||This species was known from Ascension Island, St Helena, but is now Extinct. The only record of the species comes from 1656 and it is thought to have succumbed to predation by introduced rats and cats.||1656|
|82||Myadestes||myadestinus||This species formerly occurred on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, USA, but the multitude of threats in the region have driven it Extinct. The last definite record dates from 1985 and targeted searches in 1995 and 1997 yielded no confirmed reports.||1995|
|83||Myadestes||woahensis||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, USA, but it was driven Extinct by the logging of its forest habitat. The only record is that of the type specimen, collected in 1825.||1825|
|84||Myiagra||freycineti||This species formerly occurred on Guam, but became Extinct in 1983. Predation by the introduced brown tree-snake was the cause of its extinction.||1983|
|85||Nannococcyx||psix||This species was formerly found on St Helena. It is now Extinct, presumably as a result of island deforestation in the 18th century.||1700s|
|86||Necropsar||rodericanus||This species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius, but is now Extinct, probably due to a combination of hunting, habitat loss and the action of invasive species. The last records date from 1726, and the species was not found on a visit in 1761.||1761|
|87||Necropsittacus||rodricanus||This species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius, but is now Extinct. It was last reported in 1761 and presumably hunted to extinction soon after.||1761|
|88||Nesillas||aldabrana||This species was formerly found on Aldabra, Seychelles, but it is now Extinct due to predation and habitat alteration by invasive species. It was last recorded in 1983, and searches in 1986 confirmed its extinction.||1983|
|89||Nesoenas||cicur||This Extinct species has been newly-described from subfossil remains. It is little-known but probably became extinct around 1730 as a result of overhunting, predation by rats, and deforestation.||1730|
|90||Nesoenas||duboisi||This species was found on the island of Réunion, but it was last recorded in 1674 and is thought to have been Extinct since the early 18th century. Predation by introduced cats and rats is likely to have been the primary cause of its extinction.||1674|
|91||Nesoenas||rodericanus||This Extinct species has been newly-described from subfossil remains. It is little-known but probably became extinct during the 18th century as a result of overhunting and predation by rats.||1700s|
|92||Nestor||productus||This species was known from Norfolk Island, but went Extinct in the mid-late 1800s. Habitat clearance and hunting are thought to have been the major drivers.||1850s|
|93||Nyctanassa||carcinocatactes||This species is known only from subfossil remains. It likely became Extinct during the early 17th century as a result of invasive predators and hunting for food by human settlers.||1600s|
|94||Nycticorax||duboisi||This species was endemic to the island of Réunion. It was last recorded in 1674, and was probably driven Extinct by hunters before 1700.||1674|
|95||Nycticorax||mauritianus||This species is known from the mainland of Mauritius. It was last recorded in 1693, and was probably driven Extinct by hunters before 1700.||1693|
|96||Nycticorax||megacephalus||This species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius, but is now Extinct having been last recorded in 1726, and mentioned as absent in 1761. Hunting was the cause of its extinction.||1761|
|97||Paroreomyza||flammea||This species is known from the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, USA, but is now Extinct, probably as a result of habitat destruction and introduced diseases. The last records date from 1961-1963, and a survey in 1979 failed to find the species.||1961|
|98||Pezophaps||solitaria||This species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius, but was hunted to extinction in the 18th century. It was reported in 1761, but had become Extinct by 1778.||1778|
|99||Phalacrocorax||perspicillatus||This species was known from Russia’s Komandorski Islands, but is now Extinct: the last records date from the 1940s and the species is thought to have been lost by the early 1950s. Hunting was the primary cause of its extinction.||1950s|
|100||Pinguinus||impennis||This species was formerly distributed across the north Atlantic, but is now Extinct as a result of hunting pressure. The last live bird was seen in 1852.||1852|