My how time flies. I can hardly believe Willis wrote this over four years ago (over nine, given his statement that he originally wrote it in 2005), but it is relevant to so much thinking in science. Look at the data. Regarding extinctions, there are good data available. Obviously, the situation is not as alarmists assert. To my knowledge, the thinking Willis debunks here is still entrenched in such recent rulings as the lesser prairie chicken. Anyway, to anyone reading this on my blog, know that I consider everything Willis has written to be worthwhile reading. Highly recommended. (Most is at Anthony’s site, but Willis writes a lot elsewhere, and he has a few papers in journals.)

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach


The record of continental (as opposed to island) bird and mammal extinctions in the last five centuries was analyzed to determine if the “species-area” relationship actually works to predict extinctions. Very few continental birds or mammals are recorded as having gone extinct, and none have gone extinct from habitat reduction alone. No continental forest bird or mammal is recorded as having gone extinct from any cause. Since the species-area relationship predicts that there should have been a very large number of recorded bird and mammal extinctions from habitat reduction over the last half millennium, I show that the species-area relationship gives erroneous answers to the question of extinction rates.

Figure 1. The Object of My Quest — The Corpse of an Extinct Bird


A recent study in Nature [Thomas 2004] stated that 37% of all species might soon go extinct because of habitat…

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