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Two fifths of Southeast Asia's plants and animals may disappear within the next century, according to new research.

Barry Brook from Kyoto University, Japan, and colleagues have found that between 34 and 87 per cent of butterflies, fish, birds and mammals have been lost from Singapore over the past 183 years. This has coincided with a 95 per cent reduction in the habitats of land and freshwater species.

Looking to the future, the researchers predict that up to 42 per cent of regional populations in Southeast Asia will be lost in the next 100 years. At least half of these losses are likely to be global extinctions.

The current, unprecedented rate of habitat destruction is to blame, the researchers say. "Large-scale conservation efforts need to be implemented if these regional rates of extinction are to be abated," they write in this week's Nature.

Link to research paper by Brook et al in Nature

Reference: Nature 424, 420 (2003)

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