Scientists say human activity could spell end for a quarter of all flowering plants, with huge impact on food chain
More than one-in-four of all flowering plants are under threat of extinction according to the latest report to confirm the ongoing destruction of much of the natural world by human activity.
As a result, many of nature’s most colourful specimens could be lost to the world before scientists even discover them.
One-in-five of all mammals, nearly one-in-three amphibians and one-in-eight birds are vulnerable to being wiped out completely.
The researchers started by carrying out an independent review of how many flowering plants – which make up most of the plant kingdom – exist. The team calculated that there is another 10-20%, which has still to be officially discovered.
The second stage was to assess the level of threats from habitat loss due to clearing land for planting crops or trees, development, or indirect causes such as falling groundwater levels and pollution.
A study published in the journal Endangered Species Research in 2008, which estimated that one-in-five known species were vulnerable to extinction.
The warning comes as there is growing international recognition of the value of the natural world to humans in providing ecosystem services, from flood protection and medicines to spiritual spaces and enjoyment.
“Plants are the basis for much of life on earth with virtually all other species depending on them; if you get rid of those you get rid of a lot of the things above them,” David Roberts, at the University of Kent added.
Source: Over 25% of flowers face extinction – many before they are even discovered - guardian.co.uk
Date: 07 July 2010