Global biodiversity change is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Here, we review current scientific knowledge on global biodiversity change and identify the main knowledge gaps. We discuss two components of biodiversity change-biodiversity alterations and biodiversity loss-across four dimensions of biodiversity: species extinctions, species abundances, species distributions, and genetic diversity. We briefly review the impacts that modern humans and their ancestors have had on biodiversity and discuss the recent declines and alterations in biodiversity. We analyze the direct pressures on biodiversity change: habitat change, overexploitation, exotic species, pollution, and climate change. We discuss the underlying causes, such as demographic growth and resource use, and review existing scenario projections. We identify successes and impending opportunities in biodiversity policy and management, and highlight gaps in biodiversity monitoring and models. Finally, we discuss how the ecosystem services framework can be used to identify undesirable biodiversity change and allocate conservation efforts. © Copyright ©2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.
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