From: University of Copenhagen via EurekAlert!
Published June 29, 2016 07:14 AM

Humans artificially drive evolution of new species

Species across the world are rapidly going extinct due to human activities, but humans are also causing rapid evolution and the emergence of new species. A new study published today summarises the causes of manmade speciation, and discusses why newly evolved species cannot simply replace extinct wild species. The study was led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen. 

A growing number of examples show that humans not only contribute to the extinction of species but also drive evolution, and in some cases the emergence of entirely new species. This can take place through mechanisms such as accidental introductions, domestication of animals and crops, unnatural selection due to hunting, or the emergence of novel ecosystems such as the urban environment.

Although tempting to conclude that human activities thus benefit as well as deplete global biodiversity, the authors stress that extinct wild species cannot simply be replaced with newly evolved ones, and that nature conservation remains just as urgent. 

"The prospect of 'artificially' gaining novel species through human activities is unlikely to elicit the feeling that it can offset losses of 'natural' species. Indeed, many people might find the prospect of an artificially biodiverse world just as daunting as an artificially impoverished one" says lead author and Postdoc Joseph Bull from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

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