Species, assessments, Red List!

IUCN published its latest red List of Threatened Species recently, and a story was posted on the IUCN web page: http://www.iucn.org/news_homepage/?10173/Securing-the-web-of-life.  As so often, the information in such global statements is primarily focused on Africa, Asia and Latin America.  We seem to believe that the public is more interested to read about cobras, hummingbirds and tropical fish, than they are about European butterflies and plants.  Yet, we have a track record in preparing European Red Lists of Threatened Species that is impressive. 

During the past years, we have produced the European Red Lists of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, freshwater fishes, dragonflies and selected saproxylic beetles, molluscs and vascular plants.  A total of 5,872 European species have been assessed using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.  Of these, 63% are endemic to Europe, 30% are threatened with extinction and 30 have already gone extinct in the region.  If you want the full story, there is a lot of information on: http://iucn.org/about/union/secretariat/offices/europe/work/?uNewsID=41

Currently we are working on the first regional Red List of pollinators, medicinal plants and marine fishes in Europe.  Especially, the Red List of Pollinators will be a major milestone.  Production of at least one third of the world’s food, including 87 of the 113 leading food crops, depends on pollination carried out by insects, bats and birds. My colleagues tell me that this ecosystem service is worth over USD 200 billion per year.  Yet, there is a real concern about declining populations of bees and other pollinators, and therefore a scientific record will be very helpful in determining what management action to take in the years to come.

In the long run, we would like to carry out the red lists for all those groups that have not yet been covered, such as lichens and snails, as well as marine molluscs.  There are also 20,000-25,000 vascular plants in Europe that need to be assessed.  In addition, those groups that were reviewed more than 5 years ago should be re-assessed and described to determine what changes have taken place. 

Would it not be nice to discover that a species is doing better now, than at the turn of the century?

 

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