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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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Biodiversity: Without Efforts, Losses Would Have Been Worse
26 October 2010 6:30 pm
Eight years ago, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010. That has not happened, but the bad news about biodiversity would be worse if it were not for conservation. A study released today online in Science has quantified how much protective strategies have worked to slow the decline in birds, mammals, and amphibians, concluding that the rate of deterioration would be 20% worse.
Michael Hoffman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Species Survival Commission and more than 170 colleagues looked at the status of more than 25,000 vertebrate species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, evaluating the change in status over time. They found that 20% of the world's vertebrates are in trouble. And more than 50 species of birds, mammals, and amphibians slip closer to extinction each year, with Southeast Asia suffering the greatest losses.
However, the study found that 68 of 928 species whose Red List status has changed over time had a better prognosis; and in 64 cases, conservation provided the needed boost. Effective programs include those that remove invasive species, such as introduced predators from small islands, thereby saving native birds, and whaling bans. Successes also include the reintroduction of the California condor, the Black-footed ferret, and Przewalski's horse, all previously extinct in the wild. Overall, numbers are growing in some 9% of threatened species, says Hoffmann. "The 2010 biodiversity target may not have been met, but conservation efforts have not been a failure," he and his colleagues wrote.