Local extinction: a case study of species loss in Surrey

Surrey has a long history of biological recording, which means that its flora and fauna are exceptionally well documented. Examination of these data provide an opportunity to explore extinction rates at the county scale, and to consider some of the reasons for the observed trends. In this fascinating study, Jonty Denton describes how extinction rates in Surrey have changed over time, and offers some explanations as to why certain habitats and taxonomic groups have suffered more than others.

Extinction, as they say, is forever, but extirpa­tion – local extinction – is much harder to be sure about, especially for plants with durable seeds and for invertebrates, which wax and wane in numbers. We know that wild Wolves Canis lupus no longer walk in Wealden woods, but for the smaller biota rediscovery is a word that appears in a great many papers and notes in botanical and entomo­logical journals.

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