Holocene Extinctions

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Samuel T. Turvey
OUP Oxford, May 28, 2009 - Science - 364 pages
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The extent to which human activity has influenced species extinctions during the recent prehistoric past remains controversial due to other factors such as climatic fluctuations and a general lack of data. However, the Holocene (the geological interval spanning the last 11,500 years from the end of the last glaciation) has witnessed massive levels of extinctions that have continued into the modern historical era, but in a context of only relatively minor climatic fluctuations. This makes a detailed consideration of these extinctions a useful system for investigating the impacts of human activity over time. Holocene Extinctions describes and analyses the range of global extinction events which have occurred during this key time period, as well as their relationship to both earlier and ongoing species losses. By integrating information from fields as diverse as zoology, ecology, palaeontology, archaeology and geography, and by incorporating data from a broad range of taxonomic groups and ecosystems, this novel text provides a fascinating insight into human impacts on global extinction rates, both past and present. This truly interdisciplinary book is suitable for both graduate students and researchers in these varied fields. It will also be of value and use to policy-makers and conservation professionals since it provides valuable guidance on how to apply lessons from the past to prevent future biodiversity loss and inform modern conservation planning.

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About the author (2009)


Samuel Turvey is Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, a department of the Zoological Society of London. He is a conservation biologist with a principal interest in the history and prehistory of human-caused extinctions and in developing conservation strategies for today's threatened species. He was deeply involved with the conservation efforts surrounding the Yangtze River dolphin, and was the lead author of the 2007 paper in Biology Letters which declared that it was probably extinct, generating tremendous international media attention. He has published numerous other academic papers in a range of scientific journals, including Nature.

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