When or if the current interglacial ends, what sort of extinction level can we expect, and what sort of organisms and ecosystems are affected ? How does this compare with the current extinction rate, both in the past and potentially in the future ? Will species loss due to glaciation include the things we are currently trying to conserve ?

  • $\begingroup$ Your question is quite broad. Do you mean extinction of plants or animals? On land? Are you looking for "measures" of species richness and their change due to the two extinction-reasons? $\endgroup$ Dec 20 '17 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ Plants and animals, yes. Land, ocean, urban, everywhere. I don't know about measures of species richness other than just a number count so if anyone can tell me that'd be appreciated. $\endgroup$ Dec 20 '17 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ I think you first need to ask whether glaciation (Ice Ages, IOW) actually does cause any significant extinctions, rather than just moving habitats towards the equator. I don't know of any actual data, but certainly the glacial and immediate post-glacial (pre-human, IOW) biota in North America seems much more diverse than now. Here in the western US, there are many remnant Ice Age species that now inhabit only isolated mountain ranges. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Dec 20 '17 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ OK so I had to do my own search for this topic sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170306091927.htm "Cold extermination: One of greatest mass extinctions was due to an ice age and not to Earth's warming" The Earth has known several mass extinctions over the course of its history... Over 95% of marine species disappeared...researchers have now discovered that this extinction took place during a short ice age which preceded the global climate warming.....this ice age which lasted 80,000 years was sufficient to eliminate much of marine life." So is this possible again ? $\endgroup$ Dec 21 '17 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Jimmy Widdle: The P-T extinction is NOT what we generally think of as an Ice Age. Even if this one paper is supported by further research, there were a LOT of other factors at work. Likewise a "snowball Earth" event would cause a lot of extinctions, but it's not at all the same as the geologically-recent Ice Ages. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Dec 21 '17 at 19:51

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