Going the Way of the Dodo

A glimpse of biodiversity loss in Italy

Habitat destruction, the introduction of invasive species and over-harvesting were the causes that led to the disappearance of the Dodo at the end of the 17th century. This is one of the earliest and best-known examples of human-induced extinction, whose impact on the biosphere has grown exponentially, leading to the advent of what is now known as the sixth mass extinction.

The current rate of species extinction is estimated to be between 100 and 1000 times higher than the natural rate of extinction. The main factors threatening biodiversity are climate change, pollution, urbanization, overgrazing, intensive agriculture, soil erosion, and desertification.

Italy hosts about one third of the fauna present in Europe, with an estimated 60,000 species, a richness represented not only by the quantity but also by the high endemic rate (species exclusive to its territory). According to the Italian Red Lists among vertebrates the following are considered at risk of extinction: 36% of Amphibians, 19% of Reptiles, 23% of Mammals, 27% of Breeding Birds, 21% of Cartilaginous Fish, 48% of Freshwater Bony Fish and 2% of Marine Bony Fish.

Numbers that foretell the extent of a catastrophic decline. However, outside the scientific context, the narration of issues related to the loss of animal biodiversity often remains confined to the imaginary of "symbol animals" of extinction, a short-sightedness that risks diminishing the magnitude of an irreversible deterioration.

This project, still in progress, tries to explore the capillarity of the ongoing emergency, focusing on some of the projects that in Italy deal with research, monitoring, conservation and repopulation in nature.