Extinction is difficult to prove for Earth's ultra-rare species

February 03, 2020

A recent study by the University of Kent has called for an increase in scientific surveys and collection of specimens to confirm the extinction of ultra-rare species.

Dr David Roberts, a conservation scientist at Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, concluded from research that there is currently insufficient scientific surveys to determine whether many of the Earth's rarest species, those known only from a single specimen, still exist.

As a case study, Dr Roberts investigated the orchids of Madagascar utilising three different methods of scientific survey effort. Results showed that as of 2000, up to nine of the 236 orchid species known from a single specimen could be extinct. Furthermore, up to two additional species could be considered as extinct by 2018 - assuming no new scientific collections have been made. However, whether the remaining 225 orchid species still exist is unknown as there have been insufficient scientific surveys to determine their fate.

As extinction is final, we need to have as much information as possible. This can come from digitising and making already existing data (that is currently locked away in museum cupboards) widely available. Furthermore, it can come from collecting new knowledge through scientific surveys and making this data widely available as quickly as possible, as well as collecting other information such as the current state of habitats which can be a useful indicator as to whether species still possibly exist.

Dr Roberts said: 'Most species are poorly known because of the very fact they are rare, which brings challenges for conservation practitioners. With conclusions of extinction being made on available data, it is difficult to know if an ultra-rare species is extinct or may have just gone unnoticed. The conservation community needs to work in collaboration to adapt to developing species data resources to deliver more accurate assessments of some of the world's rarest species.'
The paper, titled, Inferring the extinction of species known only from a single specimen has been published in Oryx--The International Journal of Conservation. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605319000590

University of Kent

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.