Digging up earthworms, chasing butterflies and collecting clam shells could become a thing of the past if enough isn’t done to protect invertebrates. And if they disappear, humans could soon follow. These critters form the basis of many of the essential benefits that nature provides: earthworms recycle waste nutrients, coral reefs support a myriad of life forms and bees help pollinate crops.
“The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is currently trying to expand the number of invertebrates species assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™,” says Dr Simon Stuart, SSC Chair. “The early results of this work are included in the Spineless book. I very much hope that the expansion of conservation-related information on invertebrates will give these species a much higher conservation profile in future.”
More than 12,000 invertebrates from The IUCN Red List were reviewed by conservation scientists—who also discovered freshwater species to be under the highest risk of extinction, followed closely by terrestrial and marine invertebrates. The findings from this initial group of global, regional and national assessments provide important insight into the overall status of invertebrates. Together they indicate that the threat status of invertebrates is likely very similar to that of vertebrates and plants.
Invertebrates are at risk from a variety of threats and what starts off as a local decline could lead to a global extinction. Recognizing the growing pressures on invertebrates is critical to informing more effective conservation.
Invertebrates are the engineers of the many benefits which humans accumulate from an intact and fully functioning environment; however human demand for resources is continually increasing the pressure on invertebrate populations. This book paints a clear picture of how biodiversity is changing, and will enable experts to implement successful conservation plans for those invertebrates which are struggling to survive.
ZSL will be presenting ‘Spineless: Status and Trends of the World’s Invertebrates’ at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju on 7 September.
Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature http://www.iucn.org/news_homepage/