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1.  Measuring the fate of plant diversity: towards a foundation for future monitoring and opportunities for urgent action 
Vascular plants are often considered to be among the better known large groups of organisms, but gaps in the available baseline data are extensive, and recent estimates of total known (described) seed plant species range from 200 000 to 422 000. Of these, global assessments of conservation status using International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories and criteria are available for only approximately 10 000 species. In response to recommendations from the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to develop biodiversity indicators based on changes in the status of threatened species, and trends in the abundance and distribution of selected species, we examine how existing data, in combination with limited new data collection, can be used to maximum effect. We argue that future work should produce Red List Indices based on a representative subset of plant species so that the limited resources currently available are directed towards redressing taxonomic and geographical biases apparent in existing datasets. Sampling the data held in the world's major herbaria, in combination with Geographical Information Systems techniques, can produce preliminary conservation assessments and help to direct selective survey work using existing field networks to verify distributions and gather population data. Such data can also be used to backcast threats and potential distributions through time. We outline an approach that could result in: (i) preliminary assessments of the conservation status of tens of thousands of species not previously assessed, (ii) significant enhancements in the coverage and representation of plant species on the IUCN Red List, and (iii) repeat and/or retrospective assessments for a significant proportion of these. This would result in more robust Sampled Red List Indices that can be defended as more representative of plant diversity as a whole; and eventually, comprehensive assessments at species level for one or more major families of angiosperms. The combined results would allow scientifically defensible generalizations about the current status of plant diversity by 2010 as well as tentative comments on trends. Together with other efforts already underway, this approach would establish a firmer basis for ongoing monitoring of the status of plant diversity beyond 2010 and a basis for comparison with the trend data available for vertebrates.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2004.1596
PMCID: PMC1569457  PMID: 15814350
global biodiversity; species richness; conservation assessments; extinction risk; IUCN Red List; Living Planet Index
2.  Using Red List Indices to measure progress towards the 2010 target and beyond 
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List is widely recognized as the most authoritative and objective system for classifying species by their risk of extinction. Red List Indices (RLIs) illustrate the relative rate at which a particular set of species change in overall threat status (i.e. projected relative extinction-risk), based on population and range size and trends as quantified by Red List categories. RLIs can be calculated for any representative set of species that has been fully assessed at least twice. They are based on the number of species in each Red List category, and the number changing categories between assessments as a result of genuine improvement or deterioration in status. RLIs show a fairly coarse level of resolution, but for fully assessed taxonomic groups they are highly representative, being based on information from a high proportion of species worldwide. The RLI for the world's birds shows that that their overall threat status has deteriorated steadily during the years 1988–2004 in all biogeographic realms and ecosystems. A preliminary RLI for amphibians for 1980–2004 shows similar rates of decline. RLIs are in development for other groups. In addition, a sampled index is being developed, based on a stratified sample of species from all major taxonomic groups, realms and ecosystems. This will provide extinction-risk trends that are more representative of all biodiversity.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2004.1583
PMCID: PMC1569445  PMID: 15814344
indicators; birds; amphibians; IUCN Red List; threatened species; extinction-risk

Results 1-2 (2)