New Delhi: A new study has revealed that 71,000 animal species around the world, out of which 48% of species declining towards extinction and only 3% showing signals of recovery.
The researchers analyzed population data on mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and insects.
The research, led by Queen’s University Belfast, is one of the most comprehensive and alarming studies on biodiversity loss.
The Ph.D. student Catherine Finn and Dr. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, and Dr. Florencia Grattarola from the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague have carried out the comprehensive research
The study differs from the IUCN’s Red List, which found 28% of over 150,000 species studied to be threatened with extinction.
But the authors explained that the data uncovered with their methods shows that the issue is much worse. According to the study, 33% of species designated non-threatened by IUCN were in decline.
“Almost half of the animals on Earth for which assessments are available are currently declining. To make matters worse, many of the animal species that are thought to be non-threatened from extinction, are in fact progressively declining,” said Catherine Finn, PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast and leading author on the research said.
These findings show that the global crisis of biodiversity extinction is failing to compensate lost species with the evolution of other species that could take their places (‘niches’) in nature.
The research also found that 33% of species currently considered “safe” by the IUCN conservation categories are in fact declining toward risk of extinction.
For decades, the extent of this “extinction crisis” has been measured with the traditional “threat conservation categories” that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assigns to species upon assessment.
It is currently known –based on this traditional method that 28% of life on earth is threatened with extinction.
Commenting on the importance of the findings, Dr Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology and Macroecology at Queen’s University Belfast and the Principal Investigator of the project, said “This new study method and global-scale analysis provides a clearer picture about the true extent of global erosion of biodiversity that the traditional approach cannot offer”.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, human activities including land, water and energy use are driving declines in biodiversity.
Agriculture alone is responsible for 90% of deforestation and 70% of freshwater consumption globally. Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change further threaten species and ecosystems.