Scientists analyzing species around the world concluded that billions of populations have been lost on a local and regional level, leading to the sixth mass extinction in the Earth's history. Some have termed this reduction of populations a "biological annihilation."

The study was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May. It puts the brunt of the blame on human overpopulation and overconsumption and warns that humans have a short time to act before mass extinction of species threatens human civilization.

"The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss," reads the study's introduction.

The fifth mass extinction occurred 66 million years ago — called the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event — and accounted for 75 percent of all species and the end of non-avian dinosaurs.

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The study explained that even species in relatively low danger have had an overall shrinking population and that humans should be wary of continued extinctions and shrinking populations.

"Using a sample of 27,600 terrestrial vertebrate species, and a more detailed analysis of 177 mammal species, we show the extremely high degree of population decay invertebrates, even in common 'species of low concern.'" read the report. "This 'biological annihilation' underlines the seriousness for humanity of Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction event."

Similar studies have shown that extinction rates are significantly faster but rare. However, this study differs in that it takes a broad view on the effects of population, seeing a shrinking population as an indication of an acceleration towards annihilation.

Professor Gerardo Ceballos, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who led the work, told the Guardian on Monday that "the situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language."

Robin Freeman, at the Zoological Society of London, said that while aggregation is interesting, the most troubling aspect of the finding is the decline of populations in specific geographical locations, according to the Guardian.

"While looking at things on aggregate is interesting, the real interesting nitty gritty comes in the details. What are the drivers that cause the declines in particular areas?" Freeman said.

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According to the report, the scientists found "that the rate of population loss in terrestrial vertebrates is extremely high—even in 'species of low concern.' In our sample, comprising nearly half of known vertebrate species, 32% (8,851/27,600) are decreasing; that is, they have decreased in population size and range."

"In the 177 mammals for which we have detailed data, all have lost 30% or more of their geographic ranges and more than 40% of the species have experienced severe population declines (>80% range shrinkage)," the study continued.

The data, according to the study, warned of "negative cascading consequences" on the ecosystem's ability to function which would then affect the human population.

"Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization."