Science

Half of underestimated species could be threatened with extinction, study says – Science et Avenir

More than half of the species whose conservation status cannot be assessed due to lack of data are likely to be endangered, according to a study published Thursday in the scientific journal Communications Biology.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which compiles the global red list of endangered species, currently has data on 150,000 plant and animal species, of which about 41,000 are endangered, or 28% of the total. This is 41% amphibians, 38% sharks and rays, or 27% mammals.

But for thousands of other species, the IUCN has no data to assess their conservation status, which can range from “least concern” to “endangered” or even “extinct”.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used machine learning with an algorithm to generate estimates for 7,699 species for which data is missing.

This shows that 4336 of them, or more than half, are likely to be endangered, including 85% of the amphibians on this additional list and 61% of the mammals.

“We see that in most terrestrial and coastal areas around the world, the rate of extinction could be higher if we include species for which we do not have data,” said AFP’s Jan Borgelt, lead author of the study.

This analysis also highlights certain regions where the risk is higher, such as Madagascar, rich in unique fauna, or southern India. Jan Borgelt hopes this could help the IUCN develop a strategy for underestimated species.

A UN report published in 2019 warns that a million species are threatened with extinction in the medium to long term due to habitat loss, climate change, invasive invasive species, or even their overuse.

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