More Than 44,000 Species Now Threatened With Extinction

Atlantic salmon are increasingly imperiled by climate change.

Atlantic salmon are increasingly imperiled by climate change. Matt Hintsa via Flickr

In its latest accounting, the International Union for Conservation of Nature finds that more than 44,000 species worldwide are threatened with extinction. Of these, nearly 7,000 face an immediate threat from climate change.

“Species around the world are under huge pressure,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, of IUCN, said in a statement. “So no matter where you look, the numbers of threatened species are rising.” This year, the organization tracked 157,000 species for its Red list, finding that climate change poses a growing threat to wildlife. At particular risk are freshwater fish, such as Atlantic salmon, which are now classified as “Near Threatened.”

Among all freshwater fish, some 25 percent are threatened with extinction, a trend driven in part by rising sea levels, which are pushing saltwater up rivers. Among amphibians, 41 percent are threatened with extinction, owing partly to more intense heat and drought, experts say.

“It is shocking that one quarter of all freshwater fish are now threatened with extinction,” said Barney Long, of the conservation group Re:wild. “It is critical that we better safeguard our freshwater systems, as they are not only home to precious and irreplaceable wildlife, but also provide humans with so many services that only the natural world can.”


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