Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Environment Science World News

A recent study found that the number of species facing the threat of extinction has doubled to 2 million.

New analysis has discovered that the number of species in danger of becoming extinct is 2 million, which is twice as high as previous estimates from the United Nations.

Although researchers have extensively recorded the decrease in plant and vertebrate species, there has been considerable ambiguity regarding insects, as the UN estimated in 2019 that approximately 10% of them are at risk of extinction.

New data has been gathered on insects, revealing a significantly higher percentage of species at risk of extinction than previously thought. This doubles the worldwide count of endangered species, as stated in a paper released on Wednesday by Plos One.

The main scientist, Axel Hochkirch, of the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle in Luxembourg, stated that our research emphasizes the fact that insects are facing the same level of endangerment as other groups of organisms. Given that they make up the largest group of creatures on Earth, this is a critical issue that needs to be addressed.

It has been difficult to comprehend the decline of insect populations worldwide due to the limited availability of data. However, it is important to note that invertebrates make up 97% of all animal species, with about 90% of them falling under the category of insects. These creatures play crucial roles in maintaining the balance of ecosystems by pollinating crops, aiding in nutrient recycling, and breaking down waste. According to Hochkirch, the survival of our planet is heavily dependent on the presence of insects.

The researchers examined all European species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which is widely recognized as the most extensive database for endangered species. Their findings showed that 20% of European species are facing the threat of extinction, including 24% of invertebrates, 27% of plants, and 18% of vertebrates.

Close-up of a garden tiger moth

These numbers were then extrapolated to make a global estimate of total species at risk of extinction. Apart from insects, estimates remained more or less the same as those made by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Ipbes) in 2019.

According to researchers, an in-depth examination of 14,669 evaluations for European organisms reveals that approximately 2 million species of plants and animals are in danger of disappearing.

The United Nations representatives chose not to provide a statement regarding the study. Anne Larigauderie, the executive secretary of Ipbes, stated that the second Ipbes Global Assessment Report will be released in 2028 and it is probable that the information and findings from the first report will be revised and expanded upon.

Larigauderie emphasized the critical need to acknowledge that the severity of the global biodiversity crisis remains unchanged, regardless of whether decision-makers cite a figure of 1 million or more. He stated that the unprecedented decline of biodiversity and its impact on human well-being is a pressing concern.

The reasons for these decreases are well known and are caused by human actions. The main cause is the increase in agriculture, which leads to the destruction of natural environments. This is followed by the excessive use of natural resources, pollution, and the growth of residential and commercial areas.

The article states that the conversion of agricultural land is a significant danger to biodiversity, a finding that has been frequently reported. However, our study is the most thorough and indisputable to date, confirming the extensive impact of this threat at a continental level.

Hochkirch stated that the study reveals a significant number of endangered species, but also emphasized that there is the potential for action to be taken. He drew attention to the success of conservation initiatives, specifically the rise of apex predators in Europe such as wolves, lynx, bears, and white-tailed eagles. He further commented that positive changes have been observed in areas where conservation efforts have been implemented.

Find more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on X (formerly known as Twitter) for all the latest news and features

Source: theguardian.com