Why plants need our help

 bulldozer

 The world’s plant species are facing unprecedented threats to their continued survival, despite the fact that their loss will have significant negative impacts on the humans and wildlife that depend upon them and the ecosystems services they provide. 

 

cactus Unfortunately, we know very little about what we are losing or how quickly we are losing it: there are nearly 250,000 angiosperm species currently known, and upwards of 350,000 species predicted (1).  The world’s plants are greatly underrepresented on the IUCN RedList when compared to other groups (2), but studies indicate that as many as 47% of the world’s angiosperm species are now threatened with extinction (3). 

 

bg entrance Efforts to halt the loss of plant diversity are ongoing around the world (through local efforts and global efforts that collectively contribute to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation), but this work receives disproportionately less support and funding that equivalent work on animal species [e.g. over half of the listed species in the U.S. are plants, but these species receive only 5% of funding spent on endangered species (4)]. 

 

 

CITATIONS:

  1. VAMOSI, J. C., AND J. R. U. WILSON. 2008. Nonrandom extinction leads to elevated loss of angiosperm evolutionary history. Ecology Letters 11: 1047-1053.
  2. BRUMMITT, N., S. P. BACHMAN, AND J. MOAT. 2008. Applications of the IUCN Red List: towards a global barometer for plant diversity. Endang Species Res 6: 127-135.
  3. PITMAN, N. C. A., AND P. M. JORGENSEN. 2002. Estimating the Size of the World's Threatened Flora. Science 298: 989. 
  4. KENNEDY, K. L. 2008. The Center for Plant Conservation: Twenty Years of Recovering America’s Vanishing Flora, Saving Biological Diversity, 47-58.