Scientists Call for Biodiversity Barometer

GLAND, Switzerland, April 12 (UPI) — A group of Swiss-led scientists says it has estimated how much it would cost to seek the status of millions of species, some yet to be identified.

The scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland, and Conservation International of Washington said the price tag would be $60 million.

“Our knowledge about species and extinction rates remains very poor, and this has negative consequences for our environment and economy,” said Simon Stuart, chairman of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “By expanding the current IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to include up to approximately 160,000 well-chosen species, we will have a good barometer for informing decisions globally.”

The researchers said globally, only 1.9 million species have been identified, although the estimated number of species on Earth is thought to be somewhere between 10 million and 20 million. While the organization’s Red List contains assessments of all species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reef-building corals, freshwater crabs, cycads and conifers, the vast majority of the world’s species are poorly represented.

“The more we learn about indicator species, the more we know about the status of the living environment that sustains us all,” said Edward Wilson, a biologist at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. “Threatened species, in particular, need to be targeted to enable better conservation and policy decisions.”

The researchers report their study in Science magazine.

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