A major new report has been published today by the world’s leading conservationists, highlighting the diversity and beauty of freshwater species and the immense threats they face to their survival. The Fantastic Freshwater: 50 landmark species for conservation report, led by Shoal, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), the IUCN SSC Freshwater Conservation Committee, and the Global Center for Species Survival at the Indianapolis Zoo, emphasises the urgent need for freshwater species conservation, and highlights species from across the taxonomic spectrum that we are set to lose unless urgent action is taken to alleviate threats.
Worldwide, around one in three freshwater species are estimated to be at risk of extinction. Fantastic Freshwater: 50 landmark species for conservation focuses on 50 species – five each of amphibians, birds, crustaceans, fish, fungi, insects, mammals, molluscs, plants, and reptiles – to dive into a world of freshwater both fantastic and highly threatened.
Topiltzin Contreras-MacBeath, co-chair IUCN SSC Freshwater Conservation Committee, said: “Now that we have a better understanding of the conservation status of numerous freshwater species, we urgently need to implement conservation actions to prevent further extinctions and contribute to our goal of being nature positive by 2030″.
The 50 species were selected through consultation with 21 IUCN SSC Specialist Groups, and freshwater fungi experts. To be included, species had to be Critically Endangered or Endangered on the IUCN Red List or, if not yet assessed, would most likely meet these categories based on available data.
Each of the species receive very little conservation attention, especially compared to the attention placed on many marine and terrestrial species. Many of them also act as ‘umbrella’ species for a particular freshwater system, threat, or species group. Conservation of them would likely increase protection to other species living in the same habitats.
Monika Böhm, freshwater coordinator at the Global Center for Species Survival, Indianapolis Zoo, said: “This is a milestone report for us, as it brings together experts working on freshwater species from across the taxonomic spectrum, and from across the IUCN Species Survival Commission – one of the leading bodies on global species knowledge. Because many freshwater species suffer from the same threats, each of these species tells a compelling story of what is happening to our freshwaters, whether they are vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, or tiny fungi. We really would miss a trick by not working together to give a fuller picture of the wonders – and importance – of freshwater diversity!”
New Species 2021 is the first of what will be an annual release of New Species reports, designed not only to highlight the wonderful wildlife, but to celebrate the researchers and taxonomists who work tirelessly to discover and describe species.