Freshwater species in North America are vanishing from lakes and rivers at the same startling rate as species in tropical rainforests, according to a new study published in the journal Conservation Biology. Widespread habitat destruction has already caused at least 123 freshwater species to go extinct this century, and surviving species are expected to disappear at a rate of 3.7 percent every 10 years, compared to an extinction rate of less than 1 percent for birds, reptiles, land mammals, and marine mammals in North America. At risk are fish, snails, mussels, and amphibians. The study blames the trend on toxic contamination, organic pollution from farms, soil erosion, damming, dredging, and the invasion of exotic species.

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