THE BLOG
04/09/2014 02:47 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2014

Defaunation: Loss of Animals, Threatening Rainforests and Public Health

Palo Alto, California: It gets flagged by my spellchecker and is yet to make it into the Oxford dictionary, but "defaunation", a phrase coined by Professor Rodolfo Dirzo of the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University, describes a phenomena that's posing a serious threat to rainforests and public health.

In the following interview, Professor Dirzo explains how he came up with the name and how, while a forest may look healthy on the outside, the poaching of animals for bush meat and illegal trade, is leading to a disruption of carnivore and herbivore populations.

As the local fauna enters into a cascading effect, smaller mammals such as rodents begin to dominate, introducing pathogens into expanding human populations.

Sadly of all the environmental challenges we face today, biological extinction is considered irreversible and so should be an area that receives our immediate attention.