Rainforests, like other highly diverse ecosystems such as coral reefs, wetlands, and estuaries, have always been centers for the evolution of new species. Most major groups of vertebrates, and probably insects and others, originated in warm climates, especially in rainforests, which have the highest rate of evolutionary diversification. When rainforests are gone, we will have lost a vital source of future biodiversity. We are rapidly eliminating refuges for species. With increasing human disturbance and encroachment on formerly pristine areas, plants and animals have nowhere to go to escape human activity. Species depletion will probably be wholesale across taxonomic categories because such extensive areas of the environment have been eliminated, and virtually all have been modified – if not directly, then by pollution, acid rain, modifications of rainfall patterns, and more. In the past, recovery from massive extinction events (as in the Permian age) has taken millions of years; there is a now a question whether recovery can occur at all for many groups of organisms. Humans have altered or destroyed so many habitats and ecosystems that many groups will disappear. In the past, rainforests and other tropical areas have “powered” evolution because of their high diversity and relatively benign climates. These forests being removed, few areas of great biodiversity remain as centers of future evolutionary expansions.

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