Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


1978 was the first year in the history of man that legal power to eradicate a species was established. It is one of a number of signs of rapidly accelerating rates of extinction which may result in reduction of biological diversity by one-seventh to one-fifth, with a parallel reduction in the planet's capacity to support man and a permanent reduction in the potential body of biological knowledge. Species loss of such a degree would warrant designating the close of the Recent epoch and the opening of a new one of Biotic Impoverishment. A great deal of the extinctions will occur in the tropical forest areas of the globe but with possible environmental effects extending into the temperate regions. It will fall to science to help slow the rate of extinction, to decide on which species and ecosystems to concentrate conservation efforts, and to communicate the importance of biological diversity to government and society.