The Atlantic quotes Gill in article on animal population declines, extinctions

Jacquelyn Gill, a professor of paleoecology at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Atlantic article, “It’s a mistake to focus just on animal extinctions.” Researchers state that fixating on the concept of extinction can lead scientists to overestimate the state of the planet’s health, according to the article. If a species is completely wiped out, that’s an important and irreversible loss, the article states, but before a species disappears entirely, it first disappears locally, and each of those local extinctions also matters. “The real trouble with mass extinctions, from a modern perspective, is that it’s really hard to know you’re in one before it’s too late,” Gill said. “By the time you compile the casualty list, the damage is done. … Population declines are a common precursor to extinction, and it’s a process we can actually do something about.” Gill added that protecting biodiversity is the goal. “Even if this isn’t a mass extinction, we’re clearly still losing species that we care about. The loss of the white rhino hurts even if wasn’t geologically superlative,” she said.