Those who love anteaters and rhinoceroses might be out of luck if we want to see our favorite animals thrive in the next century, according to a group of researchers who used statistical tools to predict what kinds of animals will predominate over the next century.
They looked at five categories--body mass, litter or clutch size, breadth of habitat, their diet, and the length of time between generations--and forecast which characteristics the animals of the future will likely have.
Their findings suggest that animals in the next hundred years will be small, highly fertile, and able to thrive in a variety of habitats. They'll also have short lifespans and eat insects.
Even though anteaters eat, well, ants--which are insects--that's still only one of the characteristics of the successful animal of the future. If things keep going the way they are, we might not be seeing that many anteaters in the future.
Rodents and songbirds will probably be the luckiest of all the animals, although lucky might be too strong a word since biodiversity is crucial for ecosystems to function. The world in general will be worse off if we don't work to preserve biodiversity. The biggest threats to animals are deforestation, urbanization, over-farming and global warming.
- Cooke, R. S., Eigenbrod, F., & Bates, A. E. (2019). Projected losses of global mammal and bird ecological strategies. Nature Communications. 10 (2279).