Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Classic Group of Hotels
Tens of thousands of species are under threat of extinction, but many more are completely unknown

Species extinction spreading faster than research

By James Goldie, 360info in Melbourne

More than a quarter of assessed species are at risk of extinction. But many more will die out before we even give them a name.

Despite conservation and research efforts, more and more plants, animals and other species are threatened with extinction. Of the nearly 160,000 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List, more than one quarter are classified as being threatened with extinction.

Research in 2022 found this could rise to half by 2050, as newly assessed species are more likely to be threatened than species we’ve known about for longer.

The IUCN Red List tracks species most under threat. But it also shows just how little we know about species extinction.

But assessing how threatened a species is takes time, effort and resources. Humans have collectively found and named more than 2.1 million species — more than 13 times as many as the IUCN has assessed.

The human drivers of biodiversity loss — climate change, pollution, land use change, invasive species — hit all species, not just the ones found and assessed.

And there are many, many more species beyond those we’ve found. The estimates of all the species that might exist on Earth vary enormously: some are as low as 3 million species  (19 times the size of the Red List), while others are as high as 100 million (several hundred times).

Species classified as under threat can be protected through specialised programs. But the unassessed and unknown species at threat can only be saved if the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss are addressed.

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info™.

Also Read