Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reveals 15,589 species at risk of extinction

17.11.2004


At least 15 species have gone extinct in the past 20 years


Slender loris (Loris tardigradus) from Sri Lanka is assessed as Endangered. Between 1956 and 1993, Sri Lanka lost more than 50% of forest cover to human activities, followed by a similar rate of decline in the remaining forest cover between 1994 and 2003. Photo © Anna Nekaris.


The pomegranate tree (Punica protopunica) is a close relative of the cultivated pomegranate and is endemic to Soqotra, Yemen. Although the population is apparently stable at present, it has evidently declined in the past, for reasons that are not certain. It has a severely fragmented distribution and over large areas the tree is absent except for small relict populations with no obvious regeneration. The tree is listed as Vulnerable. Photo © Anthony G. Miller



The world’s biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, according to the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and a companion study of the data, the Global Species Assessment (GSA). The GSA is the most comprehensive evaluation ever undertaken of the status of the world’s biodiversity. Its findings include the following:

  • At least 15 species have gone extinct in the past 20 years, and an additional 12 species survive only in captivity. However, the real extinction figure is believed to be much higher, due to the conservative approach used in such listings;
  • A total of 15,589 species (7,266 animal species and 8,323 plant and lichen species) are now considered at risk of extinction. This represents an increase of 3,330 since the previous year’s Red List, due to a combination of first-ever species evaluations as well as reassessments;
  • One in three amphibians (32%) and almost half (42%) of turtles and tortoises are now known to be threatened with extinction, along with one in eight birds (12%) and one in four mammals (23%);
  • There are major gaps in our knowledge of threatened species, and many species-rich groups have been poorly assessed: among plants, for example, only the conifers and cycads have been completely evaluated, with 25% and 52% threatened, respectively;
  • The numbers of threatened species are increasing across almost all major taxonomic groups;
  • Continental species extinctions have become as common as extinctions on islands, which are typically more ecologically fragile, and
  • Current extinction rates are at least one hundred to a thousand times higher than background, or "natural" rates.

The Red List and the GSA were unveiled today at the opening of the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress. Halting the growing extinction crisis will be a major focus of the 3,500 delegates attending the world’s largest conservation gathering.

"This sobering new report should serve as a wake-up call to take immediate action to prevent further species loss," says Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group. "It is not too late to act. But we cannot assume that any conservation activities will automatically prevent extinctions. We need better-funded efforts focused specifically on those animals and plants on the brink of extinction, and on those areas where such species are concentrated."


Much of the increase in the number of threatened species appearing on this year’s Red List is due to the inclusion, for the first time, of complete assessments of all the world’s amphibians, thanks to the Global Amphibian Assessment completed in September. This year also marks the debut of the Red List Index, a new tool for measuring trends in extinction risk. Red List Indices are currently available for birds and amphibians, and show that their status has declined steadily since the 1980s.

The situation in freshwater habitats is less well known than for terrestrial habitats, but early signs show it is equally serious. Amphibians, which rely on freshwater, are considered to be outstanding indicators of ecosystem health; therefore their catastrophic decline serves notice about the state of the planet’s water resources.

The marine environment is also not as well known as the terrestrial environment, but many marine species are being over-exploited to the point of extinction. "Although 15,589 species are known to be threatened with extinction, this greatly underestimates the true number, as only a fraction of known species have been assessed. There is still much to be discovered about key species-rich habitats, such as tropical forests, marine and freshwater systems, or particular groups, such as invertebrates, plants and fungi, which make up the majority of biodiversity," says Craig Hilton-Taylor, IUCN’s Red List Programme Officer.

People, either directly or indirectly, are the main reason for most species’ declines. Habitat destruction and degradation are the leading threats, but other significant pressures include over-exploitation (for food, pets, and medicine), introduced species, pollution, and disease. Climate change is increasingly recognized as a serious threat.

The GSA shows that threatened species are often concentrated in densely populated areas, particularly in much of Asia (for example, in the Western Ghats of India and the island of Java in Indonesia) and parts of Africa (such as the Albertine Rift and the Ethiopian Highlands). A major conservation challenge will therefore be to reconcile the demands of large numbers of people on the environment, while protecting the biodiversity upon which so many people’s livelihoods depend.

The importance of international support in safeguarding biodiversity is highlighted by the fact that many countries with a high concentration of threatened species have a low Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (for example, Brazil, Columbia, Cameroon, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, and the Philippines) and are unable to implement the required conservation measures without international assistance.

Despite the ominous outlook and the many gaps in knowledge, the GSA points out that species can (and many have) been saved from extinction, although the majority of threatened species require much more action to improve their status. In this sense, the IUCN Red List can serve as an effective tool to guide conservation practitioners with conservation planning and priority setting. "It is clear that the situation facing our species is serious and getting worse. We must refocus and rethink the way in which society must respond to this global threat," says Achim Steiner, IUCN’s Director General. "While most threats to biodiversity are human-driven, human actions alone can prevent many species from becoming extinct."

The GSA and Red List are produced by a consortium of the IUCN–The World Conservation Union and its Species Survival Commission; Conservation International and its Center for Applied Biodiversity Science; BirdLife International, and NatureServe.

Luba Vangelova | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.conservation.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists found a correlation between the structure and magnetic properties of ceramics

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Unique insights into an exotic matter state

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Physicists studied the influence of magnetic field on thin film structures

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>