News blog

Mo’ species mo’ problems

<img alt=“250px-Siberischer_tiger_de_edit02.jpg” src=“http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/250px-Siberischer_tiger_de_edit02.jpg” width=“250” height=“188” align=“right” border=0 hspace="10px">First, the good news: A new report cataloguing all the known plants and animals boosts the number of species known to science to 1.9 million — a rise of 114,000 compared to a study published three years ago.

Now, the bad news: A new report cataloguing all the known plants and animals found that almost 10% of all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are at risk of extinction.

The publication, Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World released by the Australian Biological Resources Study, was part of a major project to document the entire planet’s biodiversity.


Reuters led off with the positive news, quoting Peter ‘Burning Beds’ Garrett, the Australian Environment Minister (and former lead singer of the rock band Midnight Oil): “The report shows that the science of species discovery is alive and well.”

The Guardian also kept things cheerful, citing beloved British naturalist David Attenborough. “Unless we can be certain of exactly what organism we are considering, we cannot protect it,” Attenborough said. “Listing species is the beginning of that essential process.”

The BBC and AFP, on the other hand, were decidedly less upbeat. Both news stories focused on the threat posed to the 0.9% of the world’s 1.9 million documented species — including 9.2% of major vertebrate species — that are classified as at risk.

The Times, which dedicated a two-page print spread to the news, couldn’t decide which way to go. The headline stuck to the species discovery while the story kicked off with the extinction threat.

Image: An endangered Siberian tiger from Wikimedia Commons

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