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North America’s ash trees, Africa’s antelopes face heightened threat of extinction

14 / 09 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

The latest update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, released today, finds that even species once considered so abundant as to be safe have been put at risk of extinction by human activities and their impacts on the environment. For instance, rising global temperatures have made it possible for the Emerald Ash Borer beetle to thrive in areas that were previously too cold for the species, which has had dire consequences for the ash trees of North America. The state of Michigan is believed to have been the first place in North America where the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) landed after being brought over from Asia in the late 1990s in shipping pallets. Over the next two decades, the beetle spread quickly and drove down the numbers of five of the six most widespread and valuable ash tree species in North America so severely that they have now been entered onto the Red List as Critically Endangered, the last threat level before extinction in the wild. The sixth ash species, meanwhile, was entered on the list as Endangered. The Emerald Ash Borer has already destroyed tens of millions of ash trees throughout the United States and Canada, the IUCN reported, and has the potential to decimate as many as eight billion more as it continues to spread across the continent. According to Murphy Westwood, a member of the IUCN Global Tree Specialist Group who led the assessment of the…

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