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Habitat Loss and Its Impact on Iowa's Biodiversity

Kenneth Mertes
An IPR listener photo submission of a Great Blue Heron, titled: "My pond is like stopping at McDonald's"

Many scientists believe that Earth is in the midst of a sixth great extinction. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, threats to biodiversity in the Midwest.

You can tell by looking out at the landscape today, it's been drastically changed. - Katy Reeder

Right now the world is at risk of losing one out of every eight bird species, one out of four land mammals, one out of three amphibians, and six out of seven marine turtles. The outlook is bleak and the public is really just beginning to understand the magnitude of what is going on. Here in Iowa, at greatest risk of extinction are pollinators, amphibians, reptiles, and species that thrive in wetlands and grasslands - areas that used to be native to Iowa.

"Iowa used to be about two-thirds tall grass prairie...seven million acres of forests and woodlands...four million acres of prairie pothole wetlands," says Katy Reeder of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"It's been estimated that Iowa has been the state that has undergone the most landscape alteration of any in the Midwest."

This hour, host Charity Nebbe talks with evolutionary biologist, Andrew Forbes, and wildlife biologists, Rebecca Christoffel and Katy Reeder. They find out what plants, animals, and insects are at risk in the Midwest and what, if anything, can be done to protect them.

"It shouldn't be all doom and gloom and bleak," says Rebecca Christoffel, who lives by the tenant of: living simply, so that others may simply live. "It's not just the numbers of people, but our rate of consumption that is also important in terms of minimizing our impact."

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa