Nearly half of the world’s animal species are experiencing population decline, according to the most comprehensive study in this field to date, in which researchers studied changes in the population numbers of more than 70,000 animal species.
According to the authors, researchers from the Queen’s University in Belfast, this is a “drastic warning” because the loss of animal biodiversity is much worse than predicted.
The central finding of a scientific article published today in the journal Biological Reviews is that 48 percent of the world’s animal species are declining in number, while only three percent are experiencing population growth.
The decrease in numbers is noticeable in mammals, birds and insects, but amphibians are particularly affected, the research reveals. All of the listed species face many threats, including diseases and climate change. The situation is slightly better in fish and reptiles, where the number is stable in several species.
The report notes that the decline in the number of members of animal species is most concentrated in tropical regions. One of the reasons for this is that animals in these areas are much more sensitive to rapid changes in environmental temperature, one of the authors of the study said, according to CNN. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso.
The findings are even worse than the predictions
The researchers thus concluded that the crisis of biodiversity loss, based on their method of population trends, is significantly worse than that shown by previous methods of measurement.
Traditionally, the extinction risk of individual species has been measured by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on threat categories. Their analysis showed that 28 percent of living species on Earth are currently threatened with extinction. A study published this week showed that as many as 33 percent of the species, which according to the IUCN method are still on the safe side, are already experiencing a serious population decline. At the same time, the analysis shows that the animal species in which the number of individuals is increasing is not strengthening sufficiently to compensate for the large-scale decline in others.
“Our work is a drastic warning about the scale of the current crisis, which is already having devastating consequences for the stability of nature on Earth, as well as for the health and well-being of people,” said the researcher Catherine Finn. “To make matters worse, many species that were thought not to be on the brink of extinction are rapidly declining.”
The loss of biotic diversity can also lead to an accelerated spread of infectious diseases
In the face of climate change, the loss of biodiversity is considered one of humanity’s greatest challenges in the rest of this century. As a result of the joint action of both crises, according to the warnings of scientists, entire ecosystems and thus their functions for the production of food and the provision of drinking water are threatened, the long-term stability of the world economy is shaken, and the world is also threatened by the accelerated spread of infectious diseases.
This is precisely why representatives of more than 190 countries at the meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) at the end of last year in Montreal adopted a historic agreement to protect the world’s species and ecosystems. The agreement envisages that countries will protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030 and provide $30 billion in aid for nature conservation in developing countries. But as with the Paris climate agreement, the question of the actual implementation of the agreements also arises here.