Saturday, April 10, 2010

110,000 More Species at Risk Worldwide than Listed, Say Top Scientists

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York

Scientists to Create "a Barometer of Life"

According to scientists, the currently existing schemes that determine which species are at risk fall far short of what's needed. They argue in a recent study published in the journal Science that a more accurate "barometer of life" is needed to help educate the world on how many species are truly threatened, and that right now, invertebrates, fungi, marine, and arid land species are highly overlooked. They say that as of now, there are only 48,000 species being assessed for risk--when in reality, that number should be closer to 160,000.

Yes, that proposal includes the frightening implication that over 100,000 more species are at risk than are currently considered to be so. Which is precisely why some of the most respected conservationists in the world gathered to address the shortcomings of the current system. Among them, Harvard's EO Wilson and Simon Stuart, who heads the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The Shortcomings of the Red List

The IUCN's Red List is currently the international standard for recognizing species at risk, but it only assesses 48,000 species--and Stuart admits that it has a bias towards "higher vertebrates, which include mammals, birds and reptiles," according to the BBC. Arid land, freshwater, and marine species are underrepresented, Stuart says.

So what's to be done?... Read the full story on TreeHugger