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1 In 5 Endangered European Animal And Plant Species Face Extinction

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One in five endangered European animal and plant species face extinction, warns new research. PHOTO BY LARA JAMESON/PEXELS 

One in five endangered European animal and plant species face extinction, warns new research.

Agricultural land-use change poses a particularly significant threat, say scientists.

The new analysis of 14,669 threatened species of plants and animals found in Europe suggests that around a fifth face the risk of extinction.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS One, highlights the “unexpectedly large” proportion of invertebrates – such as insects – at risk.

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Among them are the “critically endangered” Crau Plain Grasshopper (Prionotropis rhodanica).

Endemic to the Crau steppe in southern France, it is threatened by changes in the grazing regime of its habitat.

The new analysis of 14,669 threatened species of plants and animals found in Europe suggests that around a fifth face the risk of extinction. PHOTO BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/SWNS 

Study lead author Professor Axel Hochkirch, curator for ecology at the National Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg, said: “The variety of species of living things – biodiversity – is declining around the world, as more and more species face the risk of extinction.

“Many efforts, including some by governments and non-profit organizations, aim to reduce the loss of biodiversity.

“The success of these efforts relies on a comprehensive understanding of threats to different species in different locations.”

To help deepen such understanding, Hochkirch and his colleagues conducted an analysis of all 14,669 species of European vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (ICUN) “Red List” of Threatened Species.

The new analysis of 14,669 threatened species of plants and animals found in Europe suggests that around a fifth face the risk of extinction. PHOTO BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/SWNS 

It is widely considered to be the most comprehensive source of extinction threat information.

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The species account for about 10 percent of all animals and plants found on land or in freshwater or marine environments in Europe.

The researchers found that around 19 percent of the 14,669 species face the threat of extinction, including 27 percent of plants, 24 percent of invertebrates, and 18 percent of vertebrates.

While conservation attention tends to focus on vertebrates, Hochkirch said the new analysis suggests that the proportion of invertebrates at risk of extinction “greatly exceeds” the latest estimates from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – an international organization involving dozens of member countries.

Hochkirch said: “This comprehensive analysis of 14,669 continental Red List assessments for European animal and plant species suggests that two million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction.

“This result doubles the latest IPBES assumption of one million threatened species.

“The analysis also reaffirms major threats to European biodiversity, including changes in agricultural land-use resulting in loss of habitats, overexploitation of biological resources, pollution, and residential and commercial development.”

He added: “These findings could serve as a baseline for measuring the progress of efforts to counter biodiversity loss.”

The research team also called for further action and investment in conservation efforts, while also highlighting areas where additional research could help guide them.

They emphasized that biodiversity is “essential” for food security, wealth generation, and the future well-being of people living in Europe.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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