Based on a study conducted in Thailand, experts have confirmed that forest fragmentation has wiped out some species in as little as 5 years.
Based on a study conducted in Thailand, experts have confirmed that forest fragmentation has wiped out some species in as little as 5 years. That timeline is much shorter than previously thought possible.
William Laurance of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia began the research two and a half decades ago after a large area of Thai rainforest was flooded to create a hydroelectric dam.
What had once been a single land mass became about 100 separate islands.
Laurence focused on 16 of them with areas ranging from 35 hundred square yards to over 130 acres.
After 5 years, he found the smaller animals averaged only 2 species left on 9 islands measuring less than 25 acres.
After 25 years, the smaller animals had been lost on the larger islands, and even the bigger animals had died out.
The causes were determined to be a combination of isolation leading to inbreeding, and a boom in the population of Malayan field rats, an aggressive predator.
The rats proliferated in such swift numbers, that they overtook many small species within a few years.
Fragmentation is considered to be one of the biggest threats to rainforest wildlife, and is typically human-driven.