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A. The Domino Effect of Extinction

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers looking into how the global biosphere recovers following an extinction event, discovered that the time scale for recovery is approximately ten million years. James Kirchner of the University of California, Berkeley says that's much longer than previously thought and goes to show that extinction has a domino effect.

Kirchner: Because individual species are so interdependent, the elimination of one species will have knock on effects through many others - through everything that feeds on it, everything that in other ways, depends on that species.

Narrator: Kirchner and his colleagues used analysis techniques from astrophysics to determine the rate of extinction compared to the rate of evolution over the past 535 million years.

Kirchner: No one had been able to do that before because the mathematical techniques you need to be able to draw those connections, given the uneven spacing of the fossil record, are available in astrophysics. And no one in paleontology was aware of those.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.