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SOURCE: Newsweek and Nature

DATE: April 8, 2019

SNIP: Scientists investigating the possible effects of climate change have predicted it would take 10 million years for the diversity of species on our planet to recover after a mass extinction event.

The authors of the paper published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution wanted to calculate how long it takes for the Earth to return to former levels of biodiversity following a mass extinction event. “Humanity is undeniably causing elevated rates of biodiversity loss through climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species introduction, and so on,” the authors warned in their study.

After a mass extinction, one might expect swathes of new species to quickly appear, the authors of the study explained. But fossil records show this can happen slower than predicted. The authors surmised this is because of the way species repopulate.

Dr. Andrew Fraass co-author of the study and expert in planktic foraminifera at the University of Bristol told Newsweek: “From this study, it’s reasonable to infer that it’s going to take an extremely long time—millions of years—to recover from the extinction that we’re causing through climate change and other methods.”

Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz, professor of palaeobiology at the University of Leicester, who was not involved in the research, told Newsweek: “The study is significant because it helps us appreciate the very long-term consequences of the striking and geologically rapid changes currently taking to the Earth’s biosphere.