US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in New Directions in Conservation Medicine: Applied Cases in Ecological Health, edited by A. Alonso Aguirre, Richard S. Ostfield, and Peter Daszak (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).


U.S. Government Work


The rate of species loss today is approaching catastrophic levels. Scientists project that over the next two decades, more than 1 million species of plants and animals will become extinct. E.O. Wilson has estimated that "the rate ofloss may exceed 50,000 a year, 137 a day ... this rate, while horrendous, is actually the minimal estimate, based on the species/area relationship alone" (Kellert and Wilson 1993, p. 16; Aguirre 2009). Ever-expanding communities, strained natural resources, changes in land use, and other anthropogenic drivers are compromising ecosystems and rapidly changing the landscape and the availability of "wild" spaces.