A new study suggests the IUCN’s methods are underestimating the risks to many species, but the organization say the research is flawed
A critically endangered munchique wood-wren (Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela )
By Jason Daley
When researchers talk about endangered species, they are usually referring to plants and animals listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the international body that keeps track of imperiled species around the globe. When research and science determines that a species is in trouble, the IUCN puts it on their Red List of Threatened Species, listing them as species of least concern, near vulnerable, vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.
But Aviva Rutkin at New Scientist reports that a new study suggests the system the IUCN uses to classify endangered species is flawed, and based on the abundance of freely available geospatial data, hundreds of species should have their threat classification upgraded.
A team from ETH Zurich and Duke University used this data to evaluate the risk level for 586 bird species. First they refined the habitat and elevation needs for the selected species from six bird-rich regions including Madagascar, southeast Asia, and Brazil. Then, using geospatial satellite data, they looked at the change in forest cover over time to determine how much habitat loss impacted those species. Read more.