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One in eight of all bird species is threatened with global extinction

Siberian Crane © Pete Morris/BirdQuest

BirdLife International is the official IUCN Red List Authority for birds and, in this capacity, coordinates the categorisation and documentation of all bird species for the IUCN Red List. In the latest assessment in 2014, 1,373 species (roughly one in eight of the total) were considered threatened with extinction. Threatened species are not evenly distributed among bird families: there are particularly high proportions among cranes (73%), albatrosses (68%), parrots (28%), pheasants (20%) and pigeons (20%). Overall, larger-bodied species and those with low reproductive rates (owing to small clutch sizes) are more likely to be threatened.


IUCN Red List status for (a) all birds, (b) globally threatened birds as of 2014

Using the criteria and categories of the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2001), BirdLife International’s 2014 assessment of the world's birds concluded that 1,373 species (13% of extant species, or one in eight) are globally threatened with extinction (see figure a). These comprise 213 species classed as Critically Endangered (meaning that they are considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction; see figure b), 419 species assessed as Endangered (very high risk of extinction) and 741 listed as Vulnerable (high risk of extinction). An additional 959 species are considered Near Threatened because they are assessed as close to qualifying as globally threatened. Hence a total of 2,332 species or a fifth of all the world’s birds are treated as global conservation priorities. Only 62 species (0.6% of the total) are considered insufficiently known to be able to assess their threat status, and so are classified as Data Deficient.

Threatened species are not evenly distributed among bird families. There are particularly high proportions of threatened species among cranes (73%), albatrosses (68%), parrots (28%), pheasants (20%) and pigeons (20%). Furthermore, families and genera with few species have disproportionately high numbers of threatened species (Purvis et al. 2000). Even allowing for these taxonomic effects, larger-bodied species and those with low reproductive rates (owing to small clutch sizes) are also more likely to be threatened (Bennett and Owens 1997).



Links

References

Bennett, P. M. and Owens, I. P. F. (1997) Variation in extinction-risk among birds: chance or evolutionary predisposition? Proc. Royal Soc. Lond. Series B 264: 401–408.
 
IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 3.1. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN Species Survival Commission.
 
Purvis, A., Agapow, P. M., Gittleman, J. L. and Mace, G. M. (2000) Nonrandom extinction and the loss of evolutionary history. Science 288: 328–330.

Compiled 2004, updated 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2014) One in eight of all bird species is threatened with global extinction. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/106. Checked: 21/09/2014