Silent crisis: freshwater species "the most threatened on Earth"
Massive mismanagement and growing human needs for water are causing freshwater ecosystems to collapse, making freshwater species the most threatened on Earth with extinction rates 4 to 6 times higher than their terrestrial and marine cousins, according to conference experts.
Klement Tockner of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, says that while freshwater ecosystems cover only 0.8% of the earth's surface, they contain roughly 10% of all animals, including more than 35% of all vertebrates.
"There is clear and growing scientific evidence that we are on the verge of a major freshwater biodiversity crisis," says Prof. Tockner. "However, few are aware of the catastrophic decline in freshwater biodiversity at both local and global scale. Threats to freshwater biodiversity have now grown to a global scale."
The human implications of this trend are "immense," he adds, because freshwater species in rivers, lakes, ground waters, and wetlands provide a diverse array of vital natural services - more than any other ecosystem type.
The problem puts billions of people at risk as biodiversity loss affects water purification, disease regulation, subsistence agriculture and fishing. Some experts predict that by 2025 not a single Chinese river will reach the sea except during floods with
|Contact: Terry Collins|