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Global Change Research Institute, CAS

Biodiversity survey reveals that more species are threatened with extinction than previously thought

With millions of plant and animal species living in different regions of the planet, biodiversity is a complex topic. Experts from all over the world thus need to be involved to assess the current state of biodiversity, related risks and opportunities for action.

Photo credit: Andy Underwood-Bultmann

CzechGlobe researcher Zuzana Harmáčková was involved in a new survey published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, synthesizing the perspectives of thousands of biodiversity experts worldwide. The survey received 3,331 responses from scientists studying biodiversity in 187 countries, covering all major groups of species, habitats and ecosystems.

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.

The study also identified important demographic and geographic differences in experts’ perspectives and estimates. This paper includes the perspectives of a very wide range of experts and facilitates assessing 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. Also, experts who identify as women disproportionately study the taxa that experts estimate are most threatened.”

The researchers encourage biodiversity experts to use these results to learn how their own perspectives differ from those of other experts, and to ensure that a range of perspectives is included when conducting global biodiversity assessments, setting global biodiversity goals and targets, and making the new policies and other transformative changes needed to conserve biodiversity.

Original publication: Isbell et al. 2022. Expert perspectives on global biodiversity loss and its drivers and consequences. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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