CRF Blog

The Vultures Will Inherit the Earth

by David De La Torre

In The Vultures Will Inherit the Earth for Slate, Sam Evans-Brown reports that many species are dying out, but some are thriving.

The world is made up of many species, and any one of them will loosely either fit the profile of a generalist [a species that can live in many places] or a specialist [one that focuses on a particular habitat]. That has always been true. What is newly true is that species are disappearing at an alarming rate, and many scientists believe we’re seeing the beginnings of something that will eventually be recognized as a mass extinction event.

And the problem is that these extinctions are not distributed equally. They’re coming for the specialists first.

“There’s really a striking common pattern that specialist species are declining everywhere,” explains Romaine Julliard, a researcher with the National Museum for Natural History in Paris who co-authored a paper on the subject with the striking sub-title: toward a global functional homogenization? He say he found the decline “in coral fish, marsupials in Australia, and bumblebees in the U.K., and some plants.” [more]

For a free related classroom lesson, see Are We Headed for a “Sixth Mass Extinction”? from our Bill of Rights in Action Archive.