Bad news for the spineless: one fifth of the world’s invertebrate species are now at risk of extinction, according to a report by the Zoological Society of London. This is especially disturbing because invertebrates are thought to represent around 99% of biodiversity on the planet.
According to Scientific American, until now scientists hadn’t made an overall estimate of the status of the spineless. Fewer than 1% of invertebrates had been assessed for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List. (NG’s Christine Dell’Amore is in Korea reporting on IUCN’s conference.)
The scientists noted that the invertebrates most at risk live in freshwater, something we’ve pointed out before here at Water Currents. Next comes terrestrial and marine invertebrates. Highly mobile insects like butterflies are least at risk.
Specifically, the report estimated that 34% of freshwater invertebrates are under threat, including more than half of the world’s freshwater snails and slugs.
The report also called attention to the biodiverse southeastern U.S., where 40% of mollusks and crayfish are at risk, thanks to the usual suspects of pollution and dams.
The scientists noted that the percentage of species at risk is similar to what we find among plants and vertebrates. The report will be announced at the ongoing World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea.