There is increasing awareness that plants and fungi, as natural solutions, can play an important role in tackling ongoing global environmental challenges. We illustrate how understanding current and projected threats to plants and fungi is necessary to manage and mitigate risks, while building awareness of gaps and bias in current assessment coverage is essential to adequately prioritize conservation efforts. We highlight the state of the art in conservation science and point to current methods of assessment and future studies needed to mitigate species extinction. Summary: Plant and fungal biodiversity underpin life on earth and merit careful stewardship in an increasingly uncertain environment. However, gaps and biases in documented extinction risks to plant and fungal species impede effective management. Formal extinction risk assessments help avoid extinctions, through engagement, financial, or legal mechanisms, but most plant and fungal species lack assessments. Available global assessments cover c. 30% of plant species (ThreatSearch). Red List coverage overrepresents woody perennials and useful plants, but underrepresents single-country endemics. Fungal assessments overrepresent well-known species and are too few to infer global status or trends. Proportions of assessed vascular plant species considered threatened vary between global assessment datasets: 37% (ThreatSearch), and 44% (International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species). Our predictions, correcting for several quantifiable biases, suggest that 39% of all vascular plant species are threatened with extinction. However, other biases remain unquantified, and may affect our estimate. Preliminary trend data show plants moving toward extinction. Quantitative estimates based on plant extinction risk assessments may understate likely biodiversity loss: they do not fully capture the impacts of climate change, slow-acting threats, or clustering of extinction risk, which could amplify loss of evolutionary potential. The importance of extinction risk estimation to support existing and emerging conservation initiatives is likely to grow as threats to biodiversity intensify. This necessitates urgent and strategic expansion of efforts toward comprehensive and ongoing assessment of plant and fungal extinction risk.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Plants People Planet|
|State||Published - Sep 2020|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors and trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Kew Foundation thank the Sfumato Foundation for generously funding the State of the World's Plants and Fungi project. We thank the following contributors who provided nomenclatural or assessment advice on species: Bill Baker, Ricardo Couto, Ethiéne Guerra, Anna Haigh, Johan Hermans, Simon Mayo, Marcus Nadruz, Mariana Naomi Saka, Terry Pennington, Jack Plummer, Brian Schrire, Élvia Souza, Marcelo Trovó Lopes de Oliveira, Maria Vorontsova, and Philipy Weber. Craig Hilton‐Taylor provided Red List Index values. Martyn Ainsworth, Martin Cheek, Colin Clubbe, Iain Darbyshire, and Mike Fay provided input on an earlier version of the manuscript. A. A. is supported by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
© 2020 The Authors, Plants, People, Planet © New Phytologist Foundation
- Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) Target 2
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species
- automated conservation assessments
- biodiversity loss
- extinction debt
- extinction risk
- phylogenetic diversity (PD)