September 29, 2009
Ten Percent Of World’s Species Are Threatened
A new study found that 0.9 percent of the world's 1.9 million classified species were under threat, including 9.2 percent of major vertebrate species, AFP reported.
Australia's government-funded Biological Resources Study, titled the "Number of Living Species in Australia and the World", is the world's only census of animal and plant life.
The study found 20.8 percent of mammals were endangered, as were 12.2 percent of birds and 29.2 percent of amphibians.
It also showed that 4.8 percent of reptiles were considered threatened, along with 4.1 percent of fish species.
Environment department secretary Robyn Kruk said that in Australia and around the world, biodiversity is under huge and growing pressure.
"The pressures are pervasive and chronic in many places; invasive species, habitat loss and climate change in particular," she added.
Some 7.8 percent of the world's known species can be found in Australia.
The study had shown its wildlife was highly unique, with 87 percent of mammals and 93 percent of reptiles found nowhere else in the world, according to Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
But Australian species also accounted for 9.1 percent of the world's threatened flora and fauna, and Garrett said vigilance was essential to their survival.
Garrett noted that while they may have a long way to go, they have discovered and named only about a quarter of Australia's estimated number of flora and fauna.
"We need this essential information to do a better job of managing our biodiversity against the threats of invasive species, habitat-loss and climate change," he said.
Meanwhile, the report said there are likely to be some 11 million species on Earth of which only 1.9 million had been discovered, with millions of invertebrates, fungi and other organisms yet to be found and classified.
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