background extinction


Also found in: Encyclopedia.

background extinction

n.
The ongoing low-level extinction of individual species over very long periods of time due to naturally occurring environmental or ecological factors such as climate change, disease, loss of habitat, or competitive disadvantage in relation to other species.
References in periodicals archive ?
Wilson now estimates that the rate will reach 10,000 times higher than background extinction by 2030.
To determine the background extinction rate, scientists look to the fossil record and to genetic material, or DNA, which accumulates small changes in its sequence as it is copied and passed down from generation to generation.
According to David Jablonski at the University of Chicago, adaptive traits that enhance survival and diversification of species during times of background extinction tend to have little in common with those traits that increase the chances of survival during mass extinctions.
At current levels of destruction, only 5 percent of tropical forests will remain in protected areas within 50 years, says the report, causing the rate of species loss to reach three or four orders of magnitude higher than the natural background extinction rate of about one species each year.
Full browser ?