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The 6th Mass Extinction Concept Questions University Of St. Thomas Ecology Assignment

1768 words - 8 pages

Chapter 1:
1. What is the source of the worldwide decline in amphibians? How do you think this started and why?
a. A fungus is belonging to a group known as Chytrids. Chytrid fungi are ubiquitous and can be found nearly in nearly all environments. It prevents amphibians from absorbing electrolytes and ions from their skin, so amphibians have a heart attack. The species of fungi was named batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (BD). Fungi can rapidly change the makeup of their genomes and become infectious to animals. Mutation in the fungi’s genome allowed for BD to flourish in its environment and to specifically infect amphibians. Moreover, because of human activity—faster modes of transportation and targeting amphibian’s environment for resources—the BD spores were allowed to spread and conquer ecosystem after ecosystem.
2. What is the Amphibian Ark project and do you think it will be successful?
a. It is a conservation project to protect amphibious species that either is currently going extinct or potentially can. Species will be maintained in captivity until they can be secured in the wild. However, the Ark project is only a temporary measure, with funding and additional resources it seems possible to preserve species; however, because of man’s selfish nature, money will most likely be allocated elsewhere. I can see the Ark project being sustained but not indefinitely.
3. How can we identify that we are in a mass extinction and we don't just see normal disappearance and reappearance of species?
a. In Mass extinction, there is a crash and disappearances spike. During Mass extinction, you lose a significant portion of the world’s biota in a very quick amount of time. In ordinary circumstances, extinction takes place very rarely. Normal disappearances and reappearances will be on a small scale and with a limited number of species.
Chapter 2:
1. Describe the general view towards extinction before modern paleontology. Why do you think they held this view?
a. The general view was that extinction did not exist. In the enlightenment, the view was that every species was part of an unbreakable link, so no species could ever become extinct. Carl Linnaeus made no distinction between living and the dead species. Only one kind of organisms –those that existed. This view could be the result of supervised religious teachings, only the ideas that conformed to the teachings of the Church could be taught and the other ideas were marked as heresy. Moreover, this could also be due to that people at the time could not have seen a species go extinct, the lack of observable experience discredits the theory of extinction.
2. How did Cuvier distinguish the Mastodon from an elephant?
a. Curvier distinguished Mastodon from the elephant by the teeth. Mastodon teeth are composed of a core of dentin surrounded by a layer of harder but brittle enamel. Elephants came to evolve more sophisticated teeth, enamel covered plates that have been fused together into a shape. This...

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