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Making a Last Stand: Acer pentaphyllum

Articles: Making a Last Stand: Acer pentaphyllum

Acer pentaphyllum with small corn fields and exceedingly steep slopes above the Jiulong River. Author’s photographs
Extinction is part of evolution. For one reason or another, species become extinct all the time. An estimated ninety-five percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct.
Michael Alan Park, Biological Anthropology

Almost daily we hear of species on the brink of extinction. Whereas a few are familiar animals seen in zoos, on television, or in magazines, most are unfamiliar plants and animals, often in some far corner of the world. Many eminent biologists say that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction that began with the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, enabling our population to increase and eventually inhabit most of the earth. As our population continues to grow at an accelerating rate, especially in the last fifty years, so has the rate of extinctions. Unlike the previous five mass extinctions, this one is driven by the impact of a single species—Homo sapiens. We humans are increasingly altering and destroying habitats in both subtle and obvious ways. It ...


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