Date: December 19, 2016
Source: Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
A disproportionately large number of animal and plant species in the world's lakes and rivers are at risk of extinction. Together with international colleagues, researchers from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin call for the identification and implementation of targeted conservation measures for these species. As a first step, awareness needs to be raised among the research community and the general public: to this end, the researchers have identified more than 60 potential 'freshwater pandas'.
"A disproportionately large number of species living in lakes, rivers and wetlands are at risk of extinction, and are in particular need of protection," stressed IGB researcher Dr. Gregor Kalinkat, one of the authors of the appeal in the journal Conservation Biology. This is confirmed by current figures: according to the Living Planet Report 2016 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), populations of freshwater species shrank by 81 per cent between 1970 and 2012. In their appeal, the authors call for the definition of freshwater flagship umbrella species and for the development of targeted conservation measures.
The term 'flagship umbrella species' combines two established concepts from conservation biology: the main idea behind the 'flagship' role is to raise public awareness, paving the way for conservation measures, e.g. through donations. The panda is the most well-known example of a flagship species; for years, the bear with striking black-and-white coloration has been used as an advertising emblem for the protection of endangered species. 'Umbrella species' are species whose protection indirectly benefits many other species. One example is the Amur tiger in East Siberia, whose conservation also helps protect bears, deer and other species.