According to new data released on Thursday, the world’s wildlife may be in greater danger than experts have previously claimed.
While experts have analyzed the state of over 147,000 plants and animals, thousands of species are deemed “data deficient” for a complete evaluation. As a consequence, those species have not been included in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s annual list of vulnerable or endangered species (IUCN).
Among those understudied species include the ocean’s toothy predator, the killer whale, as well as Argentina’s pink fairy armadillo and over 200 bat species worldwide.
According to a team of international scientists who used data on environmental conditions and human threats to map patterns of extinction threat among assessed species, the lack of data itself is a red flag in some cases, indicating that the species may be difficult to find because its population has declined.
The researchers then examined the 7,699 understudied species and determined that around 56 percent were experiencing circumstances that placed them at danger of extinction, according to the study, which was published in the journal Communications Biology.
That is almost twice the IUCN’s classification of 28 percent of world species as “threatened”
According to a 2019 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, there are millions more plant and animal species that have never been studied by the IUCN, and scientists estimate that about 1 million of them are threatened with extinction.
The research author Jan Borgelt, an ecologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology said to Reuters that many of the endangered “data deficient” plants and animals “are small-ranged species in remote places,” with many in central Africa, Madagascar, and southern Asia.
If these forecasts come true, the condition of nature “could be worse than we realize if these predictions are true,” he warned.
The research estimates that 85 percent of amphibians are endangered, making them the most vulnerable.
Species listed as vulnerable or endangered by the IUCN are often prioritized for conservation by national governments.