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UTHealth: Rapid population decline among vertebrates began with industrialization

HOUSTON – (Dec. 15, 2016) – Rapid population decline among vertebrate species began at the end of the 19th century when industrialization was at its peak, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The research was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Industrialization is the most natural explanation as to why we have rapid population decline in that period of time. It has to be somehow caused by human impact,” said Yun-Xin Fu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biostatistics and the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

To reach this conclusion, Fu and his co-authors, including first author Haipeng Li, Ph.D., who was a visiting School of Public Health student and postdoctoral fellow now with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reviewed thousands of scientific articles about the genetic diversity of vertebrate species. Their efforts yielded genetic data from 2,764 vertebrate species, 600 of which are endangered.

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