USGS EarthWord of the Week
EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!
The EarthWord: Mortality Event
One of the world’s least enjoyable events, a mortality event happens when a lot of animals die off suddenly.
Many times, these events are unexpected or their cause is difficult to determine.
Mortality comes from the Latin word mortalitas, meaning “subject to death.”
Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:
Mortality events play a significant role in wildlife epidemiology. Scientists attempt to determine the cause of mortality events to see if a disease is the cause, human activity, or some other reason.
For endangered species, mortality events can significantly threaten the population, as there may not be enough surviving individuals to form a viable population.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center studies and responds to mortality events, and we work with wildlife managers to prevent events from occurring.
We report mortality events on the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership or WHISPers map, including date, location, and species affected.
If you see sick or dead wildlife, please do not handle; we recommend that you contact your state natural resources agency.
Next EarthWord: This week's EarthWord, to quote Indiana Jones, belongs in a museum...
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