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1 The irreversible condition of a species or other group of organisms of having no living representatives in the wild, which follows the death of the last surviving individual of that species or group. Extinction may occur on a local or global level; it can result from various human activities, including the destruction of habitats or the overexploitation of species that are hunted or harvested as a resource. Species at the top of a food chain (e.g. large birds of prey) will be more prone to extinction since they exist in relatively small numbers and will be affected by a deleterious change at any of the levels in the food chain. See mass extinction.

2 The termination of a behaviour pattern that is no longer appropriate. For example, dogs can be conditioned to salivate when they hear a bell ring in the absence of a food stimulus (see conditioning). However, if the bell continues to be rung in the absence of food the dogs will gradually stop salivating on hearing the bell.

Subjects: Environmental Science.

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