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Scientists Say Species in Rainforest Fragments Nearing Extinction

Update Date: Sep 28, 2013 10:44 PM EDT

A man-made reservoir in Thailand has allowed researchers to measure the speed of mammal extinctions and found that it will happen at a much faster pace than what was previously assumed, according to a study.

The research was conducted by an international team of scientists including the University of Adelaide's Professor Corey Bradshaw and was published in the journal Science

The research is critical as it aids scientists' understanding of how forest fragmentation affects species. Forest fragmentation occurs when a larger block of forest is split into smaller blocks due to development in the area.

According to the study led by the scientists two decades ago, they concluded that the small mammals are on the verge of extinction on the forest islands, which are created by big hydroelectric reservoirs in Thailand.

"It was like ecological Armageddon," said Luke Gibson from the National University of Singapore, who led the study. "Nobody imagined we'd see such catastrophic local extinctions."

Conservationists have known for a long time that forest fragmentation leads to extinction, explains the New York Times, but no one knew exactly how long that window was. For two decades Gibson and his team tracked the biodiversity on the island off Thailand to see how long the window was.

"Our results should be a warning," said Dr. Gibson. "This is the trend that the world is going in."

"The bottom line is that we must conserve large, intact habitats for nature," Dr. Gibson noted. "That's the only way we can ensure biodiversity will survive." According to the results of the study, while scientists may still be able to intervene, they do not have enough time to ensure species survival.

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