Reptile loss threatens global biodiversity
Monday 06 October 2008
More than a fifth of the world's reptiles are threatened with extinction, a new method of monitoring the fortunes of groups of species revealed today.
Instead of assessing each individual species to see if it is at risk of dying out, the Sampled Red List Index (SRLI) examines a sample of 1,500 species from a group such as reptiles, and uses it to model how groups are doing overall.
The method, which revealed 22 per cent of reptiles are at risk of extinction, can be used to track large groups such as insects, where it is not feasible to monitor every individual species.
Complete assessments have been done on all known bird, mammal and amphibian species - but they only make up around 2 per cent of the world's wildlife, according to Dr Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
Other plants and animals are covered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, but the picture is far from complete - which means conservation decisions are being made on the basis of knowledge of less than 4 per cent of the Earth's biodiversity.
The new index, which uses the IUCN's criteria for threatened species, is "an amazing tool for communicating the status of the world's biodiversity", he said.
It will enable conservationists to identify families of species which are under threat - for example the results showed 43 per cent of crocodiles were at risk of extinction - and also which ecosystems or parts of the world have high levels of at-risk wildlife.
Dr Baillie said: "This is a quantum leap forward in our understanding of biodiversity. The disadvantage is you can't look at all individual species, but to address the bigger problems we have to understand things at an ecosystem, or habitat, level.
"The index enables us to identify a family of species or region that is particularly threatened."
Adding the new data on reptiles to the assessments on birds, mammals and amphibians has revealed that a quarter (24 per cent) of the world's land-based vertebrate species are threatened with extinction.
The scheme, developed by ZSL and IUCN, will go on to sample other groups such as crayfish and lobsters, dung beetles, butterflies, freshwater molluscs and squid and octopuses.
The findings will feed into work toward halting the loss of global biodiversity by 2010.
Mammoth ivory trade: Should the prehistoric species be protected – to save the elephant?
Solar power: Subsidy cut will stop one million buildings installing rooftop panels
Easy living: The truth about modern communes
Nasa says sea levels have risen faster than thought due to climate change
Climate change: July was the Earth's hottest month on record – while 2015 could be the warmest year, scientists say
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...