One in five of the world’s invertebrate species are threatened with extinction, according to the latest report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
From the checkerspot butterfly to the giant squid, spineless creatures are thought to represent around 99% of biodiversity on Earth. However, until now, scientists have never attempted a comprehensive review of their conservation status. In fact, fewer than 1% of invertebrates had been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has listed threatened species on its Red List since 1963.
The report estimates that 34% of freshwater invertebrates could be under threat, including more than half of the world’s freshwater snails and slugs. In the southeastern United States, which is a freshwater diversity hotspot, almost 40% of molluscs and crayfish could be wiped out owing to the effects of dams and pollution. In the oceans, almost one-third of reef-building corals are endangered largely because of climate change, which causes coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Learn more here.