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HOME > PAST ISSUE > March-April 2017 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

The Biodiversity Conservation Paradox

Even in places where nature is perceptibly altered by human actions, the number of species does not necessarily decline.

Mark Vellend

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Since the arrival of Homo sapiens in New Zealand sometime during the 13th century, the number of plant species in the country has doubled, from roughly 2,000 to more than 4,000. This island nation with no native land mammals apart from a few species of bats is now home to more than two dozen types of mammals, including possums, rabbits, deer, and wallabies. Biodiversity has increased. And yet New Zealand, along with the rest of the Earth, is often described as undergoing a “biodiversity crisis,” with species going extinct at an alarming rate. These seemingly incompatible facts and statements have prompted intense scientific debate and discussion in recent years.


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