So, we’re in the midst of what some scientists and droves of science writers are calling the Anthropocene. Though there’s still debate to be had over whether or not we’ve truly and fully entered the Era of Man, there’s no doubt about this: species are dying off at a terrifying, unprecedented rate. Biologists call it the 6th great extinction, and species like these will be the next to go.
So how should a species hope to survive a mass extinction event like the one we humanfolk are currently inflicting upon the world? Dr. David Hone has a new piece in the Guardian that has some helpful pointers (be sure to read the whole thing):
1. Be small. If you’re small, you probably have a large population and thus wider genetic diversity. Small creatures also reproduce faster than large ones allowing for rapid evolution and adaption to new conditions. And of course a small animal doesn’t require as much food or resources to keep going…
2. Have lots of offspring. As above, having a lot of variation will help evolution along and make it more likely some will survive so pumping out the kids will help. Possums are about the same size as domestic cats but have twice as many young per litter, for example.
3. Be a generalist. If you have only one source of food, or need a specific plant to shelter in, then you’re doomed if that is affected or taken out. But if you can eat more or less anything that comes your way, you have a greater chance…
4. Be wide-ranging. Similar to the above point, if the species has a global distribution, some are likely to reside in a spot that’s largely unaffected by the crisis.
5. Be free to move. An animal that can move freely will do well – it can escape the prevailing conditions and carry on…
6. Be good at surviving stress. Animals used to going for long periods without food or water [...] or who have burrows are likely to do better than those that require copious clean water, or can only survive a few hours in the wrong temperatures.
Got all that? Hope you were taking notes, 99% of the world’s wildlife. Be sure to read the whole thing for more detailed instructions.
By Brian Merchant, TreeHugger