By David Keith
We know quite a lot about which species around the world are most endangered. The Red List of threatened species, developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), identifies species that are most at risk of extinction.
But scientists have become increasingly concerned that the habitats of species and the ecological processes that influence the relationships between species are not adequately considered. Now IUCN has developed a similar risk assessment framework for ecosystems, such as Florida’s Everglades, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Scandinavia’s Boreal Forests. It lets the IUCN rank them as endangered, vulnerable or not threatened according to the risks that they face.
For the first time, we have a scientifically robust risk assessment framework, which works across the full range of terrestrial, freshwater, marine and subterranean ecosystems.
This new framework for a Red List of Ecosystems is now published in a scientific study in the Public Library of Science journal, PLoS ONE which illustrates how it would work around the world in a trial on 20 case studies.
Together, the Red Lists for species and ecosystems will provide a more comprehensive view of the status of the environment and its biodiversity than either can on its own.
The ecosystem Red List focuses on biodiversity, habitats for species, as well as their interactions and dependencies, including food webs. The species Red List focuses on individual species, some of which may go extinct even though the ecosystems in which they live continue to remain functional. More....