It is clear that the planet is losing species at an unbelievable rate. Scientists across the globe are concerned about the species lost due to the impact each loss has on ecosystems and the world as a whole. However, the planet is also losing species that are not even known to us. 1.9 million species have scientific classification, however, scientists estimate that there may be at least 10 million species on the planet itself.
Two leading scientists in the field of conservation, Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University and Simon Stuart, who is the chairman for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, decided to join forces. In addition to other scientists, the two worked to publish an article in the journal Science. The scientists are pushing for increased species assessment.
A major problem the scientists see with species conservation today is the lack of attention paid to certain groups of species and lack of classification. Such species given too little attention include fungi and invertebrates, which are also facing high extinction rates. The world’s current best tool for determining the most endangered species is the IUCN’s Red List, which catalogues approximately 48,000 species. However, a majority of the attention is still paid to mammals, reptiles and birds.
The scientists are pushing for the number of species on the IUCN evaluation list to go from 48,000 to 160,000. Simon Stuart stated: “The barometer would broaden the reach of the Red List to make it representative of all life, that’s what it’s all about.” Leaving evaluation as it currently stands would further debilitate conservation methods due to not knowing more species that are in danger of extinction and how such losses impact individual ecosystems.
In the published article the scientists wrote: “Knowledge about species and extinction rates remains very poor, and species disappear before we know they existed. As scientists are better able to asses the conservation status of the species that compose an ecosystem, the more they will be understand the health of that ecosystem.”
The scientists pushed for further action by stating: “It is time to accelerate taxonomy and scientific natural history, two of the most vital but neglected disciplines of biology.” Increasing the number of species on the IUCN list would cost approximately $60 million. However, the scientists urge that it is insignificant compared to the end result of further ecological conservation.
Stuart stated: “The amount that we are investing at the moment in the Red List to broaden its coverage means that it would take about 20 years to get there. At a time when everything on the planet is deteriorating, having to wait 20 years before we can measure everything properly is not acceptable.”