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The term "anthropause" refers to a global reduction in modern human activity, especially travel, that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in March and April 2020. It was coined by a team of researchers in June 2020 in an article discussing the possible impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on wildlife. [1] [2] The scientific journal that published the commentary, Nature Ecology and Evolution , selected the topic for the cover of its September issue, with the headline “Welcome to the anthropause”. [3] Oxford Languages highlighted the word "anthropause" in its 2020 Words of an Unprecedented Year report. [4]

The word is a blended lexical item with phonological overlap, combining the prefix anthropo-, from anthropos (Ancient Greek: ἄνθρωπος) meaning “human”, and the English word “pause”; its literal translation is “human pause”. The researchers[ who? ] explained in their article that they noticed that people had started referring to the lockdown period as the Great Pause, but felt that a more precise term would be helpful. The word anthropause intentionally links to the proposed geological epoch Anthropocene.[ citation needed ] It is not capitalised as it is conceivable that the anthropause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will not remain the only such event.[ citation needed ]

Anthropause is a neologism that is fast entering common language usage, and has been adopted by social-media users, scientists, [5] [6] [7] journalists, [8] [9] [10] artists, [11] and photographers, [12] amongst others. William Gibson, the speculative fiction writer who famously coined the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome” in 1982, posted a tweet on 23 June 2020 simply entitled “The Anthropause”, linking to the article that introduced the term. [13]

Several global research projects are underway to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 anthropause. [14] [15] For example, a recent study documented a global reduction of high-frequency seismic noise. [16] Another study, the COVID-19 Bio-Logging Initiative, uses animal tracking data collected before, during, and after lockdown, to assess how changes in human activity levels affected the movements and behaviour of a wide range of marine, terrestrial, and avian species. [9] [17] In 2021, an article published in The Geographical Journal historically situated the COVID-19 anthropause amongst other anthropause events that led to significant reductions in human activity, such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the formation of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The authors drew attention to how the anthropause was experienced unevenly by different groups of people and animals, and shed light on a range of pre-existing inequalities as many humans were not afforded the opportunity to pause during this time. [18]

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Biodiversity Variety and variability of life forms

Biodiversity is the biological variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator, which is the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richer in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than ten percent of earth's surface, and contain about ninety percent of the world's species. Marine biodiversity is usually higher along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time, but will be likely to slow in the future as a primary result of deforestation. It encompasses the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life.

Conservation biology Study of threats to biological diversity

Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.

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Wildlife trade

Wildlife trade refers to the commerce of products that are derived from non-domesticated animals or plants usually extracted from their natural environment or raised under controlled conditions. It can involve the trade of living or dead individuals, tissues such as skins, bones or meat, or other products. Legal wildlife trade is regulated by the United Nations' Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which currently has 183 member countries called Parties. Illegal wildlife trade is widespread and constitutes one of the major illegal economic activities, comparable to the traffic of drugs and weapons. Wildlife trade is a serious conservation problem, has a negative effect on the viability of many wildlife populations and is one of the major threats to the survival of vertebrate species. The illegal wildlife trade has been linked to the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases in humans, including emergent viruses. Global initiative like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 have a target to end the illegal supply of wildlife.

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