Study warns ‘generally ignored’ species face double the risk of extinction IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

A study has warned that plants and animals that do not have enough data to be properly assessed are at twice the risk of extinction as those assessed, meaning that more species may face extinction on the planet than previously thought.

The researchers looked at the extinction risk of the species assessed in red list Of the endangered species, 56% of the species in the Data Deficit (DD) category were found to be threatened, compared to 28% of the assessed species.

A species is considered DD if there is insufficient data on its distribution or population, and these species are “generally ignored” in studies analyzing biodiversity impacts, the researchers write in The paper was published in the journal Communications Biology. The Red List, established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is used by governments to determine which species should be given priority for conservation action.

The IUCN evaluates more than 140,000 species based on criteria such as population size, trends, and threats. There are 20,000 DD species on the Red List, and policy makers often consider them to be so least disturbingHowever, this study showed that a much higher percentage of these species are threatened. The researchers said 85% of DD amphibians are at risk, as are more than half of all mammals, reptiles and insects.

The genres may be DD because there are so few of them, or they are rare to see or they may be hidden species, making it difficult to estimate its population. To get around these problems, the researchers created an algorithm that predicted a species’ probabilities of extinction based on key factors they knew, such as the global distribution of that species, climatic conditions, changes in land use, pesticide use and invasive threats. Ocean. The researchers ran the algorithm on DD types if their geographic distribution was known, which is about 38% of them.

Some DD species with a very high potential for vulnerability include the Sierra Waterwatlan spikethumb frog, which has a 95% chance of being endangered, as does the Sholai night frog, and a Mexican fish called Ajijic silverside.

Female furcifer timoni, a type of chameleon found in Madagascar.  The region is one of three regions with the highest number of endangered species that lack data.
feminine Frisifer Timoni, a type of chameleon found in Madagascar. The region is one of three regions with the highest number of endangered species that lack data. Photo: Jorn Kohler/WWF/PA

Previous studies have looked at the extinction risk of DD species, but this is to the furthest extent, looking at 21 taxonomic groups – still “a small fraction of what is out there in the world,” according to lead researcher Jan Burgelt of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

“Overall, what is most striking is that in almost all terrestrial and coastal regions of the world, the average risk of extinction would be higher if we consider species that lack data,” Burgelt said. If DD species were included, 33% of the Red Listed species would be threatened, versus 28%, as predicted by the algorithm.

Central Africa, southern Asia, and Madagascar are the regions with the highest number of DD species at risk, although researchers have not investigated why this occurs. Up to half of marine species living in coastal areas are at risk of extinction.

Professor Jane Hill of the University of York, who is also a member of the British Environmental Society’s board of trustees, was not involved in the research, said: “The study is important because the approach they use [machine learning methods] It can be applied to many types.”

About 18,000 invertebrates have been assessed for extinction on the Red List, but 27% is DD. According to the statement, the extinction rate of insects is eight times faster than the extinction rate of birds, mammals and reptiles Analysis published last year, with known dips likely to be the “tip of the iceberg”. Research has shown that vertebrates are getting closer 500 times the financing for each type of invertebrate, which is seen as the least “attractive”.

“It has long been recognized that the IUCN Red List approach focuses on only a small percentage of all species on Earth, and that it needs to be more representative,” Hill said. So although this study provides more information on species DD, we still know very little about most species on Earth.”

Some types of DD are threatened

One example where the algorithm can be used is with newly recognized Whale rice, which scientists have thought could be a species for about a decade, although it took years to gain official recognition. Now there are only about 50 of them left, in the oil spill affected area of ​​the Deepwater Horizon, where there is a significant amount of boat traffic and oil and gas extraction. Marine researcher Dr Chris Parsons of the University of Exeter, who believes the DD category should be given ‘supposed threat’ status, says there is no local cry because no one knows it exists. “If immediate preventive measures were taken years ago when they first suspected a new species, this could force the research into immediate action and take emergency measures that may prevent it from being seriously endangered,” he said.

A beaked whale in the waters off the west coast of Mexico.  Data on beaked whales is so poor that it has not been possible to assess how vulnerable they really are.
Beaked whale off the west coast of Mexico. Data on beaked whales is so poor that it has not been possible to assess how vulnerable they really are. Photo: Simon Ageer/C Shepherd/Reuters

from 23 beak whale Species on the Red List, seven of which are DD. They spend a lot of time underwater (their dives can last up to three hours) and are difficult to see in the wild, yet they are at risk of a number of threats including human-made noise pollution in the ocean that can cause mass strandings. Data on beaked whales is so weak that the algorithm could not assess their vulnerability.

Humpback dolphins in the Indo-Pacific In Southeast Asia, DD has been considered for a long time so there has been no funding and little interest in studying it. They are now considered ‘semi-threatened’ and have become the official mascot of Hong Kong, as well is inserted under the US Endangered Species Act, which helps international conservation efforts.

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