New study highlights impact of biodiversity loss

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New study highlights impact of biodiversity loss

The study suggests that the destruction of nature is likely to strike a significant blow to the planet's ability to meet the needs of large parts of the Earth's population.

Human destruction of the natural world threatens all parts of the world's ecosystem, with the threat posed comparable to the issue of climate change, according to a new study released last week.

As reported in The Guardian, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES) compiled a report that involved more than 550 experts from over 100 countries, and was collated over three years.

The "multiple stressors" that the natural world faces are contributing to a widescale decline in many species and ecosystems, with some of the headlines including a 42% decline in land species in Europe in the past decade and Asia-Pacific exploitable fisheries are on track to shrink to zero by 2048.

Cetaceans are no exception, and the findings resonate particularly when considering the dramatic decline of North Atlantic right whales from ship strike, UK killer whales from PCBs and the vaquita porpoise from bycatch.

More concerning is the as yet undetermined impact of the loss of apex predators in various habitats around the world. Shift in food chain dynamics as a result of predators being removed from an area could see some species run rampant whilst others see population collapse, and the knock-on effect across the ocean could be catastrophic.

The authors of the report highlight the urgency for action.

“The time for action was yesterday or the day before,” said Robert Watson, the chair of IPBES, in The Guardian. “Governments recognise we have a problem. Now we need action, but unfortunately the action we have now is not at the level we need.”

Research of this type shows the wide ranging threats to nature, and though the focus on climate change is proportional considering it's significance, animals (including cetaceans) are facing issues on many fronts. Only by understanding and monitoring animals in all parts of the world's ecosystem can we arrest this decline and safeguard the ocean for future generations.