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Researchers: 19 percent of Europe’s plant and animal species are at risk of extinction

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Almost one fifth of Europe’s plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, according to an analysis of nearly 15,000 species included in the Red List of Threatened Species. What contributes to biodiversity loss? Landscape changes related to the development of agriculture are mentioned as one of the most important factors.

Biodiversity is declining around the world at an unprecedented rate. About one million species of animals, fungi and plants are potentially at risk of extinction in the next few decades. Authorities and non-governmental organizations are trying to counteract this by introducing various forms of protection and prevention. The success of such activities depends on a full understanding of the threats to species living in specific environments.

To better understand these threats, Axel Hochkirch from the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle in Luxembourg and his colleagues, representing various European countries, analyzed 14,669 European species of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants included in the Red List of Threatened Species. This document is published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is one of the most comprehensive sources of information on the threat of extinction. The analyzed species constitute approximately 10 percent of all animals and plants in Europe – terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater and marine). The conclusions were published on Wednesday, November 8 in “PLOS ONE”.

What are the main threats to biodiversity in Europe?

After careful analysis, scientists report that 19 percent of the 14,669 species are at risk of extinction, including 27 percent of plants, 24 percent of invertebrates and 18 percent of vertebrates. While conservation attention usually focuses on vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds) – new analyzes suggest that the proportion of invertebrates at risk of extinction far exceeds previous estimates of the intergovernmental organization Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ( IPBES). Analyzes have confirmed that one of the main threats to biodiversity in Europe is changes in land use. They cause habitat loss, overexploitation of biological resources, pollution and the sprawl of residential and business infrastructure.

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Two million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction

Scientists are calling for further action and investment in a process that will stop the loss of biodiversity. They emphasize that biodiversity is necessary to ensure food security and the well-being of Europeans. – Exhaustive analyzes of 14,669 species from the Red List allow us to believe that two million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction. These numbers mean doubling the recent IPBES assumptions of one million species, the scientists conclude.

Consequences of climate change in EuropeMałgorzata Latos, Adam Ziemienowicz/PAP

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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