Prof. Gerardo Ceballos
Vertebrate population and species losses, the sixth mass extinction, and the future of biodiversity in the Neotropics.
Professor Ceballos is a world–renowned environmental scientist. He is known for his pioneering and extraordinarily diverse ecological and conservation research, his unparalleled efforts to bring ecological knowledge to crucial societal issues, his building of bridges between ecology and conservation in order to find humane paths to ecological sustainability, and his untiring efforts to increase the ecological literacy of the general public. His publications include close to 500 scientific and popular papers and 45 books, which have been cited more than 13,000 times. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences, He is a professor at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
The loss of biological diversity as a result of the impact of the growing human population is one of the most severe global environmental problems, and probably the only one truly irreversible. Thousands of species and hundreds of thousands of populations of mammals (and all other life forms) are being driven to extinction every year. The Neotropics is one of the most biodiverse biogeographic regions is also one with higher populations and species at risk. Current vertebrate extinction rates at global level are increasingly higher that the “background extinction” rates prevailing in the Pleistocene, estimated at 1 mammal extinction per 5,000 species per 100 years (that is, 1 E/MSY). So, vertebrate species that become extinct in the last 100 years would have taken up to 7,000 years to disappear. But focusing exclusively on species extinction undermines the magnitude of the extinction crises. A sample of all vertebrates indicate that more than 32% of all species have declining populations, including both common and rare species. These estimates reveal an exceptionally current rapid loss of biodiversity indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. This “biological annihilation” highlights the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event. It is still posible to avert the dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services intensified through conservation efforts. The window of opportunity is, however, rapidly closing.