One in five of the world’s invertebrate species are threatened with extinction, according to the latest report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
From the checkerspot butterfly to the giant squid, spineless creatures are thought to represent around 99% of biodiversity on Earth. However, until now, scientists have never attempted a comprehensive review of their conservation status. In fact, fewer than 1% of invertebrates had been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has listed threatened species on its Red List since 1963.
“When I first took a look at the Red List, it was biased towards larger, more charismatic species,” says Ben Collen, a biodiversity scientist at the ZSL Institute of Zoology in London, who coordinated the invertebrate study and co-edited the report. “The project we’ve been running for the past five years tries to put invertebrates on the Red List in a systematic way.”