More species are threatened by extinction than previously thought

A new biodiversity study has revealed that far more forms of life are at risk of being lost forever than most estimates have suggested. 

Significantly more species are threatened by extinction than previously believed, according to research by the University of Minnesota, which included 3,331 responses from scientists studying biodiversity in 187 countries. All major species types, habitats, and ecosystems were included. 

‘While considering the types of species and ecosystems they know best, experts estimated that about 30% of species have been globally threatened or driven extinct since the year 1500. Experts also acknowledged substantial uncertainty around their estimates, with perhaps as few as 16% or as many as 50% of species threatened or driven extinct over this time,’ said Forest Isbell, associate professor at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the paper, which was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

‘This paper includes the perspectives of a very wide range of experts and allows us to assess less known taxa as well as give a voice to underrepresented experts in the global literature. Experts who identify as women and who are from the Global South have provided significantly higher estimates for past biodiversity loss and its impacts,’ added co-author Patricia Balvanera, of the University of Mexico. ‘Also, experts who identify as women disproportionately study the taxa that experts estimate are most threatened.’

The news comes at the same time as a separate analysis suggested that over half of all species that are considered at risk will need interventions specific to their individual needs in order for numbers to recover. Meanwhile, in June research showed that 44% of all land on Earth will need to be protected by conservation laws in order to safeguard biodiversity levels. 

Image credit: Ronny Overhate


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top