Agricultural expansion and climate change threaten the world’s endemic species


One of the world’s leading conservation groups has warned that 38,744 species on its survival watch list ”have become at high risk of extinction.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) told a conference earlier this month in Marseille, France, that despite some improvements in conservation efforts in recent years, the number of species threatened with extinction continues to increase.

Reversing, continuing or accelerating these past trends in habitat loss will depend on future global carbon emissions and societal choices.– Andrea Manica, zoologist, University of Cambridge

The group identified 138,374 species on its survival watchlist, ”28 percent of which have gone from threat of extinction to high risk of extinction.

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Climate change and the degradation of natural environments are two main reasons for the growing threat to Earth’s biodiversity.

Of particular note is that IUCN has warned that the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard, has moved into the high risk category for extinction.

The idea that these prehistoric animals have come close to extinction in part because of climate change is terrifying – and another clear call for nature to be placed at the heart of all decision-making on the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, ”Andrew Terry, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London, told CNN.

The IUCN findings corroborate the findings of a previous study published in the journal Nature Communications, which showed that deforestation and climate change are causing rapid destruction of natural habitats around the world and putting vulnerable species at risk.

The study found that global demand for food has led to increased land use, which in turn has increased deforestation and the transformation of natural habitats into cropland.

This transformation both increases greenhouse gas emissions and harms the natural cycles of ecosystems, negatively impacting all stages of animal life.

Whether these past trends in habitat loss reverse, continue or accelerate will depend on future global carbon emissions and societal choices in the years and decades to come, ”said Andrea Manica, lead author of study and professor of zoology at the University of Cambridge. .

In another study, recently published in the journal Biological Conversation, scientists have shown that changes in the planet’s temperature of more than 3 ºC could cause the extinction of half of endemic marine species and a third of endemic species. terrestrial.

The synthesis study found that animals and plants living in an area are more likely to be affected by climate change than less specialized species.

However, invasive species are likely to experience little or no effects in the face of global warming. This could give invasive opportunists the opportunity to gradually repel endemic species, leading to a decrease in biodiversity.

We were really surprised at how much more we expect to lose with such small increases in average temperature, ”one of the study’s authors told Carbon Brief. Following the Paris Agreement [warm­ing lim­its] would make a huge difference to our biodiversity around the world.


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