Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Red List and the Sixth Extinction

Since 1994, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been compiling a list of endangered species. Today, the IUCN Redlist is the standard for finding out about the status of more than 49,000 endangered species.

Last year, the IUCN began work on a Redlist for ecosystems. Scientists are aware that you can't save species without saving their ecosystems. Further, that it's the wrong type of thinking to ask how many species an ecosystem "needs" to thrive. Last week studies described in the New York Times showed that more species in an arid ecosystem allowed it to function better.

The same article described a major assessment of life's different animal groups and the news is not good. For example, 25% of assessed mammals and 41% of assessed amphibians are threatened. Why it went under the title "Are we in the midst of a sixth extinction?" is a mystery when the answer is obvious.
new york times, biodiversity, extinction

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