A recent study published in the scientific journal, 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences', detailed dire trends on the population of animal Species that amounts to “biological annihilation.” This study was done by a team of researchers from Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. They stated that the sixth mass extinction that the Earth is going through is even “more severe than perceived.”

What did the study find?

The study revealed a look at the population trends of 27,600 combined species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Together this made up half of Earth's discovered terrestrial vertebrates. Using this data the researchers got their results, which as one could guess from the opening paragraph, are not good. They discovered that there is an “extremely high degree of population decay” among Earth's vertebrates, even for species that are believed to not really be threatened by extinction.

The study also found that the planet is undergoing a large period of population declines, which in turn is causing animal species to stop existing in certain places. This will cause a negative chain reaction in terms of how ecosystems function. This in term will affect services vital to sustaining life on Earth. The researchers also highlighted their use of “biological annihilation” to highlight the magnitude of what is going on.

Species are being pushed to the edge

In order to trace species decline, the researchers divided the planet's land masses into a 22,000 section grid. Each section of the grid measured 3,860 square miles (10,000 square kilometers). This method found that in South and South East Asia for example, large-bodied mammals have lost over 80% of their geographic ranges.

Taking this localized view of populations being pushed towards extinction, which foreshadow permanent species extinction, and the study found that Earth's sixth mass extinction is farther along than most people believe it is.

Humans are mostly the ones to blame

Past mass extinctions were caused by sudden and destructive events like gigantic volcanic eruptions or asteroid strikes.

Researchers involved in the study say that this one is mostly caused by humans due to deforestation, overpopulation, poaching and extreme weather events and warming oceans due to climate change. The Earth has lost 200 vertebrate species in the last 100 years. This is an amount that should have taken place over 10,000 years based on what researchers know about trends from the past two million years.