[dahy-awf, -of]
a sudden, natural perishing of large numbers of a species, population, or community.

1935–40; noun use of verb phrase die off

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Science Dictionary
die-off   (dī'ôf')  Pronunciation Key 
A sudden, severe decline in a population or community of organisms as a result of natural causes. Local die-offs can be caused by such factors as an unusual or extreme weather pattern, an outbreak of disease, or toxic algal blooms in a body of water. Widespread or global die-offs in which a species or group of species becomes extinct are generally associated with rapid climate change or other large-scale environmental dislocations.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
There is a phenomenon in which hippocampus die-off occurs in people under stress for years on end.
Until now, the cause of the vulture die-off has been a mystery.
Researchers posit that the melanocyte die-off may be a way for the body to shed potentially cancerous, radiation-stressed cells.
Freshwater mussel die-off attributed to anticholinesterase poisoning.
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