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How many species are we losing?

Surprisingly, scientists have a better understanding of how many stars there are in the galaxy than how many species there are on Earth. Unidentified fish. The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1, and 10, times higher than the natural extinction rate. If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true - i. But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true - that there are million different species co-existing with us on our planet - then between 10, and , species are becoming extinct each year.

This simply means the rate of species extinctions that would occur if we humans were not around.


Racing Exctinction

Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current extinction challenge is one for which a single species - ours - appears to be almost wholly responsible. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are disappearing because of habitat loss, water and air pollution, climate change, ultraviolet light exposure, introduced exotic species, and disease. Because of their sensitivity to environmental changes, vanishing amphibians should be viewed as the canary in the global coal mine, signaling subtle yet radical ecosystem changes that could ultimately claim many other species, including humans.

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BIRDS Birds occur in nearly every habitat on the planet and are often the most visible and familiar wildlife to people across the globe. As such, they provide an important bellwether for tracking changes to the biosphere. Declining bird populations across most to all habitats confirm that profound changes are occurring on our planet in response to human activities.

Tell the Truth

A report on the state of birds in the United States found that 31 percent of the species in the country are of conservation concern [ 8 ]. Habitat loss and degradation have caused most of the bird declines, but the impacts of invasive species and capture by collectors play a big role, too.

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FISH Increasing demand for water, the damming of rivers throughout the world, the dumping and accumulation of various pollutants, and invasive species make aquatic ecosystems some of the most threatened on the planet; thus, it's not surprising that there are many fish species that are endangered in both freshwater and marine habitats. The American Fisheries Society identified species of freshwater or anadromous fish in North America as being imperiled, amounting to 39 percent of all such fish on the continent [ 9 ].

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In North American marine waters, at least 82 fish species are imperiled. Of the 1. Freshwater invertebrates are severely threatened by water pollution, groundwater withdrawal, and water projects, while a large number of invertebrates of notable scientific significance have become either endangered or extinct due to deforestation, especially because of the rapid destruction of tropical rainforests.

In the ocean, reef-building corals are declining at an alarming rate: 's first-ever comprehensive global assessment of these animals revealed that a third of reef-building corals are threatened. MAMMALS Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the present extinction crisis is the fact that the majority of our closest relatives — the primates — are severely endangered. About 90 percent of primates — the group that contains monkeys, lemurs, lorids, galagos, tarsiers, and apes as well as humans — live in tropical forests, which are fast disappearing.

The IUCN estimates that almost 50 percent of the world's primate species are at risk of extinction. It damages horse-chestnut tree leaves, adding to pressures from logging, forest fires and tourism.

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A large number of overlooked species threatened by human activities were also assessed for the European Red List, with more than a fifth of terrestrial mollusc species and bryophytes and almost half of all shrub species threatened with extinction. While these species are rarely prioritised in conservation planning and policy making, they help provide crucially important ecosystem services, such as the food we eat and the air we breathe.

We need to mitigate human impact on our ecosystems and prioritise the protection of these species. Terrestrial molluscs play a key role in soil regeneration and the recycling of nutrients in natural ecosystems, making them excellent indicators of soil health. In addition, they are an important food source for birds, mammals, invertebrates and in some cases, humans in countries such as France and Italy. The European Red List identifies those species that are threatened with extinction at the European level, so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.

More than half of native European trees face extinction, warns study

While European Red Lists for more charismatic species, including all vertebrate species mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and fishes , had already been established, the status of many lesser-known species had never been assessed in Europe until now. Gland, Switzerland.

Brussels, Belgium. It is a health check for our planet — a Barometer of Life. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.

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Species are assigned to one of eight categories of threat based on whether they meet criteria linked to population trend, population size and structure and geographic range. It is a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions. It identifies those species that are threatened with extinction at the European level Pan-Europe and the European Union so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.