Report Highlights Extinction Risk for Invertebrates
31 August 2012: Invertebrates such as clam shells and butterflies soon may go extinct, according to "Spineless: Status and Trends of the World's Invertebrates," a report by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), launched on 31 August 2012. Their disappearance may threaten the survival of many other species, the report notes, highlighting invertebrates' benefits.
According to the report, freshwater species are at highest risk for extinction, followed by terrestrial and marine invertebrates. The report finds that the threat status of invertebrates is likely very similar to that of vertebrates and plants. Threats identified include: pollution from agricultural sources and dam construction; introduction of invasive species; and disease, which affects the quality of the water they live in. The highest risk of extinction tends to be associated with species that are less mobile and are only found in small geographical areas, such as invertebrate freshwater molluscs. More mobile invertebrate species, such as dragonflies and butterflies, face a similar threat to that of birds, and around one tenth of species are at risk.
Simon Stuart, IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Chair, noted that the Commission is working to expand the number of invertebrates species assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and some of the results are included in the report.
Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation, ZSL, highlighted that more effort is spent on conserving well-known, "charismatic" species, and the loss of invertebrates often is ignored. [Publication: Spineless: Status and Trends of the World's Invertebrates] [IUCN Press Release]