Numbers flap has minor implications for global extinctions | Science News

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Numbers flap has minor implications for global extinctions

Statistical technique inflates predictions of species disappearances, two ecologists charge

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2:24pm, May 19, 2011

Two ecologists have poked a hornet’s nest by contending that a long-overlooked flaw in one form of analysis has inflated estimates of looming species extinctions.

Correcting the flaw wouldn’t change the basic projection that extinctions will be massive, says one of the ecologists, Stephen Hubbell of UCLA. Even so, he and a colleague write in the May 19 Nature, the problem requires revisions in a technique that ecologists use to estimate species extinctions due to habitat destruction.

Outspoken ecologists have already dismissed the work as technical quibbling that threatens to distract attention from the mo

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