As many as half the world's species may face extinction by 2100 because of pollution, climate change, human population growth and other influences, a renowned scientist dubbed"the father of biodiversity"told an audience here.

Edward O. Wilson spoke Wednesday to a Montana State University crowd estimated at more than 2,000 after he came to Bozeman to accept the George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Award. The award by the American Computer Museum of Bozeman and MSU's computer science department was in recognition of Wilson's promotion of an electronic"Encyclopedia of Life"to store information about every species on Earth.

Wilson, a Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has done pioneering research in biology and developed a field known as sociobiology, which seeks to link behavior in humans and animals to their evolutionary heritage.

Steps to prevent the broad loss of species can be undertaken and the 21st century ultimately may become known as"the century of the environment,"Wilson said.

He has been seeking to recruit religious fundamentalists as allies in a push for environmental protection.

His new book,"The Creation,"presents a case for religion and science to work together for protection of Nature, saying the two are"the most powerful social forces on Earth,"for achieving change.

Wilson described Earth as"a little-known planet."

"We have just begun to explore it,"he said.

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