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The Red List
Jamais Cascio, 9 Mar 05

© Troy InmanWhile following some of the links for the Biodiversity Intactness Index, I happened upon the Red List: the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource's database of information on threatened, endangered, and recently-extinct species.

The goals of the Red List are clear and stark:

  • Identify and document those species most in need of conservation attention if global extinction rates are to be reduced; and
  • Provide a global index of the state of degeneration of biodiversity.
  • Summary statistics and data are available, broken down by kingdom, class/order/family, and degree of threat, but where the Red List shows its power is the searchable database. The basic search allows you to select by Red List category (from "Extinct" and "Extinct in the Wild" to "Least Concern"), country or region, habitat type, and source of threat. The expert search includes taxonomic information. The search results include the conservation actions necessary to prevent further degradation of species conditions, as well as links to other databases (from AmphibiaWeb to Google) for more information. The breadth of the database -- the number of species under threat -- is staggering. The results of search after search are both fascinating and sad.

    The Red List also includes galleries of images of threatened species, such as the lemur pictured above.

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    The IUCN database is an amazing tool and one I take advantage of every now and again.

    I still worry, though, that too much focus on the conservation of individual species is problematic. Habitat should be the number one priority. After all, even if we manage to preserve the bulk of those endangered or threatened species, if they will only be kept in zoos or fenced in parks, carefully monitored for basic genetic diversity problems, what is the point?

    Posted by: Hungry Hyaena on 11 Mar 05



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