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Global Survey Finds More Species on the Brink of Extinction Than Previously Thought

According to a global biodiversity assessment, more species than previously believed are in danger of going extinct.

Global Survey Finds More Species on the Brink of Extinction Than Previously Thought.
Golden lion tamarins, also known as Golden marmosets, are an endangered species native to the Atlantic Coastal forests of Brazil. Image Credit: Eric Kilby

Biodiversity loss is one of our biggest environmental challenges in the world, probably more important than climate change. The problem of climate change can be corrected by stopping the emission of more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If you lose a species, it is gone forever.

Professor Johannes Knops, Researcher, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Professor Knops and more than 60 other scientists have contributed to a significant global assessment on biodiversity loss, which was published in one of the top-ranked specialist ecology journals Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

It is one of the pioneering studies to compile various geographic and demographic information from thousands of international specialists on biodiversity. It tries to reveal knowledge gaps and discrepancies in expert opinion within the biodiversity sector.

Each expert’s viewpoint helped to provide a thorough evaluation of biodiversity loss and the most important variables impacting the planet’s ecosystems.

There was broad agreement that the loss of global biodiversity will probably reduce human benefits from nature and its contributions to functioning.

The results imply that more species than previously believed could be in danger. According to researchers, since 1500, 30% of species have either been driven to extinction or are in danger of extinction. By 2100, this could rise to 37% if current trends continue. However, this can be reduced to 25% with quick and thorough conservation measures.

According to the study, exploitation of land and sea resources, pollution, climate change, and land use change are the main causes of biodiversity loss.

Professor Knops added, “Biodiversity loss occurs in many different places, and there are gaps in our common understanding of it. This collaboration can help us reach a consensus on where to make efforts to improve biodiversity.

A Global Perspective

The specialists that participated in the study come from a variety of backgrounds, many of which include underrepresented groups in the field of biodiversity science, including women and people from the Global South. This large spectrum reflects significant variations in estimations and advice from experts.

Professor Knops analyses the problems with earlier research on biodiversity and makes the argument that attitudes about land use are influenced by the demographics and geographic context of studies.

Current land-use strategies for increasing biodiversity include land-sharing and land-sparing. The land sharing strategy focuses on thinking about how agriculture and cities can co-exist with biodiversity, while the land sparing strategy expands the size of protected areas to increase biodiversity while maintaining intensive agricultural practices elsewhere.

Professor Johannes Knops, Researcher, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

He further added, “Historically, there has been a greater emphasis on land sparing and making nature reserves, which was put forth predominantly by North American and European white males. Women and people in China, South America, and Africa, place more emphasis on land sharing. These findings suggest that maybe there is disproportionate focus on land sparing, and there should be more consideration of land sharing.

The study’s authors want to inspire further researchers to utilize it to comprehend the global perspective on biodiversity loss and to incorporate a variety of perspectives in their future work.

Professor Knops concluded, “Every species has its own food chain and needs to interact with other species in ecosystems, each of which is important to the ecosystem. That is why we should be concerned about biodiversity loss.

Journal Reference:

Isbell, F., et al. (2022). Expert perspectives on global biodiversity loss and its drivers and consequences. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. doi:10.1002/fee.2536.


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