News of the WeekConservation

Filling Gaps in Global Biodiversity Estimates

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Science  01 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6000, pp. 24
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6000.24

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Earlier this week, researchers helped fill gaps in the data on the conservation status of species by using an innovative statistical approach called the Sampled Red List Index. By taking a random sample of the known species in various plant groups, such as ferns, and compiling existing information on just that subset, they have concluded that 22% of all plant species are threatened. Previous estimates had ranged between 20% and 80%, making it difficult for policymakers to know how much they should emphasize plants in their conservation strategies. The new index is a response to growing frustrations with the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, which is an ongoing tally of which species are known to be in trouble.