Identifying species at risk of extinction

Collen, B., Dulvy, N., Gaston, K.J., Gärdenfors, U., Keith, D.A., Punt, A.E., Regan, H.M., Böhm, M., Hedges, S., Seddon, M., Butchart, S.H.M., Hilton-Taylor, C., Hoffmann, M., Bachman, S.P. & Akçakaya, H.R. 2016. Clarifying misconceptions of extinction risk assessment with the IUCN Red List. Biology Letters 12, 20150843. (Image from Shutterstock) shutterstock_57211396

The identification of species at risk of extinction is a central goal of conservation. As the use of data compiled for IUCN Red List assessments expands, a number of misconceptions regarding the purpose, application and use of the IUCN Red List categories and criteria have arisen. We outline five such classes of misconception; the most consequential drive proposals for adapted versions of the criteria, rendering assessments among species incomparable. A key challenge for the future will be to recognize the point where understanding has developed so markedly that it is time for the next generation of the Red List criteria. We do not believe we are there yet but, recognizing the need for scrutiny and continued development of Red Listing, conclude by suggesting areas where additional research could be valuable in improving the understanding of extinction risk among species.