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Consequences of the loss of threatened vertebrates


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The number of vertebrate species inhabiting the different regions of the world is highly variable, as is the proportion of threatened species. Some regions, such as the tropics, have more threatened species than is expected given the total number of species. Yet the vulnerability of the ecosystems facing the ongoing loss of species does not depend only on the species number but also on their ecological role. These roles depend on the characteristics of the species; their size, weight, shape, reproductive capacity, or the food resource they use. If threatened species have similar characteristics to non-threatened species, the loss of functions due to the extinction of threatened species might be compensated by other species. In contrast, if threatened species have unique characteristics, their loss can have a dramatic effect on the functioning of ecosystems, and the services they provide to human well-being.

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