To stem the loss of the world's threatened species, the world requires new tools to collect and share information."Online databases, smart phone apps, crowd sourcing and new hardware are making it easier to collect data on species," said lead author of a study, Stuart L Pimm of Duke University.

“Then combined with data on land-use change and the species observations of millions of amateur citizen scientists, they are increasingly allowing closer monitoring of the planet's biodiversity and threats to it," he added.

According to co-author John L Gittleman, Dean of University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, "as databases coalesce and policymakers have access to greater information, we see real and improving successes for conservation science".

There are still enormous gaps in knowledge about how many species there are, where they live and their risks of extinction. Only about 13 percent of the world's land area and roughly two percent of its ocean area are currently under any sort of legal protection.

And for aquatic species, whose threats often come from activities taking place on land far from where they live, land use management may prove just as important as protecting their habitat, the study noted.

The authors reviewed recent studies in conservation science, looking at rates of species extinction, distribution and protection to determine where there were crucial gaps in knowledge, where threats to species are expanding and how best to tailor protection efforts to be successful.

"For our success to continue, however, we need to support the expansion of these technologies and develop even more powerful technologies for the future," the authors stated.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species is one of the chief sources of biodiversity information. It covers approximately 71,000 species today, but with greater investment could expand to its target of 160,000 species.

"One of the most exciting opportunities made possible by new technology is that we can combine existing databases such as the Red List with constantly updated maps of where species live, maps of areas that are protected, maps of land-use change, human impact and threat and the species observations of amateurs," Pimm said.

The paper was published in the journal Science.


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