Animals will shrink to survive over the next century

Animals will get smaller over the next century as they downsize to survive.

Scientists say larger species will also be wiped out as humans destroy their habitats.

Rodents, including the dwarf gerbil and songbirds such as the white-browed sparrow-weaver, are likely to be most successful. But tawny eagles and black rhinos face extinction. The findings were published in Nature Communications.

On average creatures are expected to be 25 percent smaller in 100 years as they adapt to the threats of deforestation, hunting, farming, urbanization and global warming.

By contrast, average body size has reduced by just 14 percent in the 130,000 years since the last ice age. Experts at Southampton university studied the body mass, litter size, habitat, diet and lifespan of 15,484 living animals and birds.

They also used the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species to predict likely extinctions. A spokesman said: “In the future, small, fast-lived, highly-fertile, insect-eating animals, which can thrive in a wide variety of habitats, will predominate.”

Rob Cooke, lead author of the study, said: “By far the biggest threat to birds and mammals is humankind.”

Felix Eigenbrod said: “We have demonstrated that the projected loss will not be ecologically random, rather a selective process where certain creatures will be filtered out, depending on their traits and vulnerability to ecological change.”

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