The first paper of the sRedList project was published online in January 2022. This project brings together a large network of scientists and practitioners (larger than listed on the website) and its main aim is to maximize the effectiveness of the RL assessments. Why is this? The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species plays a central role in monitoring biodiversity and informing conservation actions. Yet, insufficient resources hamper a more frequent update of RL assessments, and it prevents the RL to be more taxonomically and geographically representative. What does this mean? It means that for birds, mammals and amphibians there is sufficient ecological data for the assessment of 80-95% of the species, however other taxa like plants, invertebrates or fungi have a very limited number of species assessed (< 20%). Further, 14% of assessed species (n = 19 394) are classified as Data Deficient due to insufficient information available to apply Red List criteria. Finally, while species should be reassessed at least every 10 years (Red List guidelines version 14)ii, 18% of assessments (n = 24 764) are currently outdated. More worryingly, about 2100 species were last assessed 25 years ago, with 50% listed as threatened. However we do not know their current threat status, or if they should be downlisted to another threat category.
RL assessments are thorough, time-consuming and human resources-demanding processes. However, they are key to understanding the status and trends of biodiversity. In this project funded by iDiv we aim to facilitate and speed up the assessments, improve the ability of the RL to keep assessments up to date, allow assessors to make the best use of the available data, and improve the consistency of the assessments across taxonomic groups. We propose that models or automated calculations can alleviate these challenges by providing standardised estimates required for assessments, or prioritising species for (re-)assessments. In order to ensure that these methods are integrated into assessment practice we will work to a) foster communication and collaboration between academic researchers and Red List practitioners, b) develop and maintain user-friendly platforms to automate application of the methods.
We are gathering again in Leipzig between 14-16 March to hold our first hybrid workshop (so far we have only held virtual meetings), and discuss some exciting developments and new ideas for better supporting RL assessments. This project is led by Moreno di Marco and Luca Santini from Sapienza University, and the paper published in TREE was led by Victor Cazalis, a brilliant postdoc researcher which is leading most of the scientific outputs of the sRedList project. This has been so far a extremely rewarding experiente for me, and I am learning a lot from all members of this superb working group. Stay tuned for more news!
Cazalis, V., di Marco, M., Butchart, S.H.M., Akçakaya, H. R., González-Suárez, M., Meyer, C., Clausnitzer, V., Böhm, M., Zizka, A., Cardoso, P., Schipper, A. M., Bachman, S. P., Young, B. E., Hoffman, M., Benítez-López, A., Lucas, P. M., Pettorelli, N., Patoine, G., Pacifici, M., Jörger-Hickfang, T., Brooks, T. M., Rondinini, C., Hill, S. L. L., Visconti, P., Santini, L. (2022) Bridging the research-implementation gap in IUCN Red List assessments. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2021.12.002