Fact Sheet: Global Species Decline | Earth Day Network

Fact Sheet:  Global Species Decline

The number of individuals across species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods (insects and arachnids), fish, crustaceans, corals and other cnidarians, and plants have declined, in many cases severely, over the past century. Human civilization has had a negative impact on most living things.


FACT #1 The normal rate of species extinction is 1-5 species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with literally dozens of species going extinct every day.[1]
FACT #2 Habitat destruction, overexploitation, and climate change combined have resulted in the loss of half of the world’s wild animal population in just the last 40 years.[2]
FACT #3 Primates, our closest animal relatives, are under threat. Around 60% of the 504 primate species are threatened with extinction, and 75% of species have declining populations.[3]
FACT #4 Around the world, more than 650,000 marine mammals are either accidentally caught or seriously injured by fishing gear every year.[4]
FACT #5 75% of all toothed whale species (dolphins, porpoises), 65% of baleen whale species (humpback, blue), and 65% of pinniped species (sea lions) all suffer from bycatch in fishing operations around the world. [5]
FACT #6 A new study has suggested that insect populations have decreased by more than 75% worldwide over the last 28 years. 80% of wild plants rely on insects for pollination, and 60% of bird species rely on insects for food.[6]
FACT #7 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline, and 1 in 8 is threatened with global extinction.[7]
FACT #8 Lizard populations are especially vulnerable to climate change. A recent study projects that if current trends continue, by 2080, 40% of all lizard populations will be extinct. This corresponds to a loss of 20% of all lizard species on earth.[8]
FACT #9 Habitat loss is important, the Bison that once numbered in the millions and roamed from Alaska to Mexico now occupy less than one percent of their original territory. Their existing habitat is so small and tightly controlled that surviving bison have been compared to herded cattle.[9]
FACT #10 The California Grizzly, the bear seen on the State flag, has been extinct since the 1920s. [10]