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      Green Plants in the Red: A Baseline Global Assessment for the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants

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          Plants provide fundamental support systems for life on Earth and are the basis for all terrestrial ecosystems; a decline in plant diversity will be detrimental to all other groups of organisms including humans. Decline in plant diversity has been hard to quantify, due to the huge numbers of known and yet to be discovered species and the lack of an adequate baseline assessment of extinction risk against which to track changes. The biodiversity of many remote parts of the world remains poorly known, and the rate of new assessments of extinction risk for individual plant species approximates the rate at which new plant species are described. Thus the question ‘How threatened are plants?’ is still very difficult to answer accurately. While completing assessments for each species of plant remains a distant prospect, by assessing a randomly selected sample of species the Sampled Red List Index for Plants gives, for the first time, an accurate view of how threatened plants are across the world. It represents the first key phase of ongoing efforts to monitor the status of the world’s plants. More than 20% of plant species assessed are threatened with extinction, and the habitat with the most threatened species is overwhelmingly tropical rain forest, where the greatest threat to plants is anthropogenic habitat conversion, for arable and livestock agriculture, and harvesting of natural resources. Gymnosperms (e.g. conifers and cycads) are the most threatened group, while a third of plant species included in this study have yet to receive an assessment or are so poorly known that we cannot yet ascertain whether they are threatened or not. This study provides a baseline assessment from which trends in the status of plant biodiversity can be measured and periodically reassessed.

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          Most cited references 8

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          The status of the world's land and marine mammals: diversity, threat, and knowledge.

          Knowledge of mammalian diversity is still surprisingly disparate, both regionally and taxonomically. Here, we present a comprehensive assessment of the conservation status and distribution of the world's mammals. Data, compiled by 1700+ experts, cover all 5487 species, including marine mammals. Global macroecological patterns are very different for land and marine species but suggest common mechanisms driving diversity and endemism across systems. Compared with land species, threat levels are higher among marine mammals, driven by different processes (accidental mortality and pollution, rather than habitat loss), and are spatially distinct (peaking in northern oceans, rather than in Southeast Asia). Marine mammals are also disproportionately poorly known. These data are made freely available to support further scientific developments and conservation action.
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            Biodiversity Loss Threatens Human Well-Being

            Biodiversity lies at the core of ecosystem processes fueling our planet's vital life-support systems; its degradation--by us--is threatening our own well-being and will disproportionately impact the poor.
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              Advantages of volunteer-based biodiversity monitoring in Europe.

              Without robust and unbiased systems for monitoring, changes in natural systems will remain enigmatic for policy makers, leaving them without a clear idea of the consequences of any environmental policies they might adopt. Generally, biodiversity-monitoring activities are not integrated or evaluated across any large geographic region. The EuMon project conducted the first large-scale evaluation of monitoring practices in Europe through an on-line questionnaire and is reporting on the results of this survey. In September 2007 the EuMon project had documented 395 monitoring schemes for species, which represents a total annual cost of about 4 million euro, involving more than 46,000 persons devoting over 148,000 person-days/year to biodiversity-monitoring activities. Here we focused on the analysis of variations of monitoring practices across a set of taxonomic groups (birds, amphibians and reptiles, mammals, butterflies, plants, and other insects) and across 5 European countries (France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland). Our results suggest that the overall sampling effort of a scheme is linked with the proportion of volunteers involved in that scheme. Because precision is a function of the number of monitored sites and the number of sites is maximized by volunteer involvement, our results do not support the common belief that volunteer-based schemes are too noisy to be informative. Just the opposite, we believe volunteer-based schemes provide relatively reliable data, with state-of-the-art survey designs or data-analysis methods, and consequently can yield unbiased results. Quality of data collected by volunteers is more likely determined by survey design, analytical methodology, and communication skills within the schemes rather than by volunteer involvement per se.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                7 August 2015
                : 10
                : 8
                [1 ]Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom
                [3 ]School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
                [4 ]South African National Biodiversity Institute, KRC, Private Bag X7, Claremont, South Africa
                [5 ]IUCN Red List Unit, Sheraton House, Castle Park, Cambridge, United Kingdom
                [6 ]School of Biology, Dyers Brae, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, United Kingdom
                [7 ]King's College London, Strand, London, United Kingdom
                Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, BRAZIL
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The funding organisations provided support in the form of salaries for authors, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. None of this alters the authors' adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: NB SB JM TM ENL. Performed the experiments: NB SB JG-L ML JM TM SA EA EB HC CC V. Coldwell SC V. Crook RH PM-T. Analyzed the data: NB SB JG-L ML JM CH-T. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: NB SB JG-L ML JM AF JD CH-T TM SA EA KA GA EB BB AB JC MC HC EC CC V. Coldwell BC SC V. Crook PD LG NG HG AG RH DH SK PL-F H. Lindon H. Lockwood CL DL LL-P JL PM-T KMG L. Moreno L. Murray KN EP MQT R. Salter R. Segrott HT LT ST GW KW. Wrote the paper: NB SB JG-L ML JM AF JD CH-T TM ENL.


                Current address: Universidade de Évora, Palácio do Vimioso, Largo Marquês do Marialva, Évora, Portugal


                Current address: Hegelstrasse 7, Tübingen, Germany


                Current address: Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland


                Current address: SIFitLab (Laboratory of the Italian Society of Herbal Medicine), University of Siena, Via Laterina, Siena, Italy


                Current address: Agrobiosciences–Genomics and Crop Science, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Piazza Martiri della Libertà, Pisa, Italy


                Current address: Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza, Milano, Italy


                Current address: 93 Otho Court, Augustus Close, Brentford, Middlesex, United Kingdom


                Current address: Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom


                Current address: ERSAF, Via Oliva, Gargnano (BS), Italy


                Current address: TRAFFIC International, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, United Kingdom


                Current address: Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom


                Current address: Jacobs, Dundee Street, Edinburgh, United Kingdom


                Current address: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom


                Current address: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre, The Manor House, Broad Street, Great Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom


                Current address: Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, South Kensington, London, United Kingdom


                Current address: Artisan Plant Nurseries, Kings Hill Nurseries, Kings Hill Lane, Finham, Coventry, Warwickshire, United Kingdom


                Current address: International School of St. Gallen, Höhenweg, St. Gallen, Switzerland


                Current address: University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, United Kingdom


                Current address: WWF España, Gran Vía de San Francisco, Madrid, Spain


                Current address: Natural England, Nobel House, Smith Square, London, United Kingdom


                Current address: 12 Stockton Hill, Dawlish, Devon, United Kingdom


                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 2, Pages: 22
                Funding and support for the first phase of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants has been provided by the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Rio Tinto plc., the World Summit on Sustainable Development Implementation Fund of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of the United Kingdom government and the World Collections Programme, as well as The Natural History Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The IUCN Red List Unit is generously supported by the Rufford Foundation, the MAVA Foundation and the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi. Artisan Plant Nurseries did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Rio Tinto plc. contributed to the funding of digitisation of specimen data and Red List assessment generation during the course of the project, but in no way did this hold any influence over the scientific outputs of this project. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                Sources for samples of species are given in the paper. Specimen data is from publicly available databases such as GBIF ( www.gbif.org) or TROPICOS ( http://www.tropicos.org/), and are not supplied by us. Additional specimen data from the herbarium at Kew is available online through herbcat ( http://apps.kew.org/herbcat/navigator.do) and is also supplied directly to GBIF ( http://www.gbif.org/publisher/061b4f20-f241-11da-a328-b8a03c50a862). Specimen data from the Natural History Museum is available from the NHM data portal ( data.nhm.ac.uk) and is also supplied directly to GBIF. All assessments submitted to IUCN have either been included on the Red List website or are in the process of being published by IUCN. The Red List database can be searched from http://www.iucnredlist.org/.



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