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In 500 years, 150,000 to 260,000 animal and plant species have become extinct

The sixth mass extinction of species is on its way. Because not only is biodiversity declining at high speed due to human activities, but this decline would be underestimated.

According to an international team of researchers from the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the red list of extinct species should be considerably extended by taking into account non-vertebrates.

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Their work, published in the journal “Biological Reviews”, and relayed this week by the Museum of Natural History, indicate that“There would not be 0.04% of animal and plant species that have disappeared in the world since the year 1500, but between 7.5 and 13%”. “Applied to all living beings, this represents around 150,000 to 260,000 extinct species”, detail the researchers.

“Beginning of the sixth mass extinction”

How to explain this error of appreciation? “The red list [de l’UICN] is strongly biased: almost all birds and mammals, but only a tiny fraction of invertebrates, have been assessed against conservation criteria, explain the authors of the study. Indeed, “Only about 3%” of the known species diversity consists of vertebrates.

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Taking into account terrestrial molluscs, in particular snails and slugs, scientists believe that the phenomenon of extinction ” far exceeds the background rate and that we may well be witnessing the onset of the Sixth Mass Extinction. “ The Red List now has 128,918 species, of which 35,765 are threatened with extinction.

Hands in the earth, eyes on the sky: you too can support biodiversity

Faced with this alarming finding, researchers are calling for awareness. “As systematic biologists, (…) we reaffirm the message that biodiversity, which makes our world so fascinating, beautiful and functional, is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. In the face of a growing crisis, scientists must embrace the practices of preventive archeology, and collect and document as many species as possible before they become extinct. (…). Denying the crisis, simply accepting it and doing nothing, or even embracing it for the purported benefit of humanity, are not appropriate options and pave the way for continuing Earth’s sad trajectory towards a sixth. mass extinction. “

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