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Extinction, Substitution, and Ecosystem Services

Paul R. Ehrlich and Harold A. Mooney
BioScience
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Apr., 1983), pp. 248-254
DOI: 10.2307/1309037
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1309037
Page Count: 7
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Extinction, Substitution, and Ecosystem Services
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Abstract

The loss of services to humanity following extinctions ranges from trivial to catastrophic, depending on the number of elements (populations, species, guilds) deleted and the degree of control each exerted in the system. Most attempts to substitute other organisms for those lost have been unsuccessful, to one degree or another, and prospects for increasing the success rate in the foreseeable future are not great. Attempts to supply the lost services by other means tend to be expensive failures in the long run. A conservative approach to the maintenance of services through minimizing anthropogenic extinctions is recommended.

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