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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

EU: alarming decline in plants, molluscs and freshwater fish

Europe's natural heritage is showing an alarming decline, according to new research published today. The European Red List, a part of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, assessed a considerable portion of Europe’s native fauna and flora, finding that a large proportion of molluscs, freshwater fish and vascular plants now fall into the threatened category. The assessment of some 6000 species reveals that 44% of all freshwater molluscs, 37% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 20% of a selection of terrestrial molluscs, 19% of reptiles, 15% of mammals and of dragonflies, 13% of birds, 11% of a selection of saproxylic beetles, 9% of butterflies, and 467 species of vascular plant species are now under threat. [...]

Freshwater molluscs are the most threatened group assessed so far. Spengler’s Freshwater Mussel (Margaritifera auricularia), once widespread, is now restricted to a handful of rivers in France and Spain. Currently listed as Critically Endangered, it was considered to be nearly extinct in the 1980s. The species is one of two for which a European-level Action Plan was designed, and there are ongoing conservation programmes which allow hope for its future. [...]

Freshwater fish are also highly threatened, especially as a result of pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the introduction of alien species. Sturgeon are particularly at risk, with all but one of the eight European species now Critically Endangered.

Source: European Commission

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