Navigation Links
Rethinking extinction

For more than 40 years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published the Red List of Threatened Species describing the conservation status of various species of animals. They are now also including plants in their lists and the picture they present is dramatic. According to recent estimates, around 20 per cent of flowering plants are currently at risk of extinction though the exact number is unknown since such a small proportion of plant species has even been measured.

Now, however, research conducted in South Africa and the U.K. by an international team of researchers led by McGill biologist Jonathan Davies and Vincent Savolainen from Imperial College London and Kew Gardens, suggests that the criteria for assessing risk of extinction in plants should be revisited. "Reducing rates of extinction represents one of the greatest ecological challenges of our time," Davies said, "but identifying which species are most at risk can be difficult."

By some criteria, a species is considered at risk if it is to be found only in a limited geographical range and if it has a small population size. But through molecular analysis of DNA sequences from plant specimens, the researchers have been able to show that these criteria also describe species that are relatively new arrivals. "In plants, we show that the processes of extinction and speciation [the evolutionary process by which new species arise] are linked seemingly the most vulnerable species are often the youngest. Young species may appear at high risk of extinction simply because their populations have not yet had time to grow and spread. However, it is also possible that some plant species might be doomed to extinction from their very inception," Davies said.

Deciding which species should have the highest priority for conservation is a fraught process and these findings are likely to be controversial Savolainen suggested. "Our results challenge the application of the same sets of threat criteria across living organisms plant versus animals and across regions biodiversity hotspots versus temperate countries such as the UK". Savolainen added: "The IUCN is doing an important job, but we may need to think of ways to fine tune the implementation of 'Red List' criteria for rapid assessments of threat a daunting task that might prove even more pressing given the changes we see in our global environment."


Contact: Katherine Gombay
McGill University

Related biology news :

1. Queens researchers propose rethinking renewable energy strategy
2. Rethinking Alzheimers disease and its treatment targets
3. Rethinking the genetic theory of inheritance
4. Rethinking who should be considered essential during a pandemic flu outbreak
5. New study provides global analysis of seagrass extinction risk
6. Reptile cousins shed new light on end-Permian extinction
7. The winners of mass extinction: With predators gone, prey thrives
8. Algae, bacteria hogged oxygen after ancient mass extinction, slowed marine life recovery
9. Fossil bird study describes ripple effect of extinction in animal kingdom
10. Earths sixth mass extinction: Is it almost here?
11. Extinction predictor will help protect coral reefs
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Rethinking extinction
(Date:10/13/2015)... 13, 2015 Dragon Capital Group Corp. ... China , announced today that its wholly ... received a contract for Multi-Format Naked Eye 3D System for ... $450,000 for the project that is expected to be completed ... 35% in gross profits. --> ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... -- Global Next Generation Biometric Market . ... --> Mordor Intelligence is pleased to announce ... Biometric Market . ) --> ... ) --> --> ... increase to $23.8 billion by 2020 at a CAGR ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ) ... report "Biometrics: Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, ... --> --> The study is designed ... segment. Research represents a selection from the mountains of ... materials, with selections made by the most senior analysts. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... , ... The shortlist of finalists for the Pistoia Alliance President’s Startup Challenge ... from across Europe and the USA. , The Startup Challenge 2015 has seen startup ... in life sciences R&D, with over 30 entries submitted. A panel of expert judges ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... Universal SuperHeat Controller/Sensor (USHX) product, launches today on the Android smartphone platform. Southern ... system with DMQ’s remote control and monitoring capability for the first time to ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... and Cocoon Biotech, Inc. are Amgen,s 2015 selection for ... space at LabCentral. LabCentral is an innovative, shared laboratory ... startups. Cambridge, Mass. ... ways to deliver potential life-changing therapies. --> ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Oct. 13, 2015  Cepheid ... the quarter ending September 30, 2015. ... financial results, total revenue for the third quarter of ... net loss per share is expected to be approximately ... financial results, non-GAAP net loss per share for the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: