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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Many South American birds face extinction if major forest conservation does not occur immediately, a University of Tennessee ecologist says in this week’s Nature magazine.

Dr. Stuart Pimm says many bird species may already be doomed but some could survive temporarily because of a “time lag” between deforestation and extinction.

Some bird species might survive, in very low numbers, for 30 to 50 more years if as little as 10 percent of forest remains, he said.

Pimm warns, however, that conservation measures must come quickly and must be comprehensive.

“The number of species in this state of near-extinction is exactly as we have predicted with this time- lag for deforestation,” Pimm said. “The species may linger for 20 or 30 years, but they are, in every sense, already doomed.”

Counting the number of bird species that live in the Atlantic forest and nowhere else, researchers predict 88 extinctions. Another 60 species are threatened with extinction out of a total of 214 endemic species.

“Without immediate conservation action, the numerous Atlantic forest birds currently threatened — and untold numbers of other animal species — will soon become extinct,” Pimm said.


Contact: Dr. Stuart Pimm (423-974-3065)