UNH's Fred Short adds seagrass data to major conservation study

Oct 28, 2010

A major new study that sounds a conservation alarm for the world's vertebrate species notes that the world's seagrass species are faring somewhat better, says a University of New Hampshire researcher who was a coauthor of the study.

Fred Short, UNH research professor of natural resources and director of the worldwide program SeagrassNet, was among the 174 scientists who contributed to "The Impact of Conservation on the Status of the World's ," released online this week in the journal Science.

"Some areas, including New Hampshire, are experiencing serious loss of seagrass distribution," says Short, "but that is different than experiencing loss of a given , which is what the Red List process evaluates."

The survey focused primarily on vertebrate species, finding that 20 percent of the vertebrates reviewed are classified as "threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and an average of 52 species of mammals, birds and amphibians move one category closer to each year. In addition, the article included three plant groups.

"Inclusion of these plant groups -- seagrasses, cycads and conifers – gives a context for what's happening with vertebrates by looking at other organismal distribution," says Short. "Plant species provide habitat and food for vertebrates."

Short, who is the IUCN Red List Authority focal point for seagrasses, led a three-year assessment of the world's seagrass species for conservation status. He notes that 14 percent of seagrass species are in threatened categories based on the . "We're polluting our oceans and coastal areas tremendously," he says. "We are most certainly losing seagrass distribution, and at present 10 of the world's 72 seagrass species are threatened. The trends are not encouraging."

The Science paper, whose lead author is Michael Hoffman of the IUCN, emphasizes that its concerning findings should not obscure the impact of conservation efforts, without which species losses would have been 20 percent higher. "Nonetheless, current efforts remain insufficient to offset the main drivers of biodiversity loss in these groups: agricultural expansion, logging, over-exploitation, and invasive alien species," the authors write.

Short adds that the same drivers affecting vertebrates, along with coastal development, are also threatening seagrasses in the coastal oceans.

Explore further: Policy action urgently needed to protect Hawaii's dolphins

More information: For an abstract of the Science paper, go to www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content… ract/science.1194442
To learn more about SeagrassNet, go to www.seagrassnet.org

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nitrogen retained through loss

May 22, 2008

The nitrogen cycle plays a major role in seagrass fields. Dutch researcher Arie Vonk studied the nitrogen dynamics of seagrasses in Indonesia. He discovered that the interaction between seagrasses, animals and microorganisms ...

Study: World's seagrass beds are declining

Mar 28, 2006

A University of New Hampshire scientist says the world's seagrass beds -- important habitats, food sources and sediment stabilizers -- are disappearing.

Red List overlooks island species

Jul 24, 2009

The criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List are an essential tool for evaluating the conservation status of species around the planet, and according to these criteria ...

Extinction alert issued for 800 species

Dec 13, 2005

Conservation and environmental groups have compiled a list of nearly 800 species they say face imminent extinction. Most of the threatened species are found mainly in tropical areas, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Habitat loss wiping out Europe's butterflies

Mar 16, 2010

The destruction of natural habitats in Europe is wiping out butterfly, beetle and dragonfly species across the region, the updated European "Red List" of endangered species showed Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on

16 hours ago

(AP)—U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary ...

Uphill battle to tackle Indonesian shark fishing

Dec 17, 2014

Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.