University of New Hampshire professor Fred Short and others found 39 additional marine species beyond the 14 protected by federal law that are at an elevated risk of extinction. These species, which range from whale sharks to seagrass, should receive priority for protection and restoration efforts, the authors advocate.
“A lot of species in the Gulf of Mexico are going to be damaged by this oil spill but aren’t on the U.S. radar screen, although they’re threatened globally,” says Short, who is a research professor of natural resources and the environment at UNH. Along with lead author Claudio Campagna of the Wildlife Conservation Society and others, Short was a major contributor to the paper, “Gulf of Mexico Oil Blowout Increases Risks to Globally Threatened Species,” which appears in the Roundtable section of the May 2011 issue of BioScience.
“It is imperative to understand the global consequences of environmental disasters, as a local perspective underemphasizes the incidence on widely distributed species,” says the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Campagna. “The IUCN Red List data has an unmatched, so far neglected potential to inform policy decisions at a regional level.”
The researchers consulted the extensive species database of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, which assesses species’ global survival status via a rigorous scientific process. They found 53 species with a distribution that overlaps the area of the oil spill that are categorized as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Of these, only 14 receive legal protection in the United States under the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, or the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
“There are species that are surely threatened that could be driven to extinction because of this oil spill,” says Short.
Among the Red List species that are not protected by U.S. law are the commercially valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna (western stock), 16 species of sharks, and eight corals. Many species are particularly vulnerable because they return to the Gulf of Mexico to spawn, and the oil spill coincided with peak spawning periods. The researchers also write that the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, is uniquely at risk from oil and oil dispersants because of its filter-feeding behavior; its long lifespan and slow reproductive rate compound the threat to its recovery. It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List but not protected by the Endangered Species Act.
“Threatened species not yet listed in national legislation should nevertheless be the subject of damage assessments, targeted research, and monitoring, as well as recovery efforts when needed,” the authors write. The U.S. Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which is the primary legal authority for assessing damages and providing for recovery of coastal and marine species, may not account for injury to these globally threatened species.
Further, the authors advocate that environmental impact assessments conducted for future offshore oil and gas development should incorporate available data on globally threatened species, including species on the IUCN Red List.
“Next time this happens – and we know there will be a next time – we need to take this broader list into consideration,” says Short.
In addition to Short and Campagna, authors were Beth A. Polidoro, Roger McManus and Kent E. Carpenter of the Global Marine Species Assessment at the IUCN Species Programme; Bruce B. Collette of the National Marine Fisheries Service Systematics Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History; Nicholas J. Pilcher of the Marine Research Foundation in Malaysia; Yvonne Sadovy de Mitcheson of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong; and Simon N. Stuart of the IUCN Species Survival Commission at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Core funding was provided by Tom Haas and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.Media contact: Beth Potier
Beth Potier | Newswise Science News
Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut
Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research