Focus on "cute" animals in extinction debate ignores invertebrates

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Washington, April 2 : Scientists have suggested that in the extinction debate, the focus is more on "cute" animals, thus ignoring issues like the threats faced by invertebrates and local extinctions.

According to a report by ABC News, Professor Nigel Stork of the University of Melbourne has said that the extinction debate is too narrowly focused on pin-up images of charismatic birds and mammals.

Instead, Stork urges, there should be greater focus on threats facing invertebrates and local extinctions.

Reasons for the focus being narrowed down to attractive animals are statements about "100 extinctions a day" becoming accepted, cited by organisations such as the United Nations and repeated in the popular media.

"When you compare birds and mammals to snails, molluscs and insects, there is a seven times greater chance of a species becoming rare and endangered for birds and mammals than for these invertebrates," said Stork.

"The threats are different. For birds and mammals, the threats are hunting and loss of habitat, for invertebrates and other insects, it may be another suite of threats," he added.

Stork said that the number of known extinctions since 1600 is several thousand with only 60-70 species of insects included in the list, which reflects a lack of information about insect and other invertebrate numbers.

"The truth at the moment is we don't have enough information to talk about hundreds of species dying out," said Stork. "It's bad science, when you've got millions of species, to extrapolate in the same way," he added.

According to Stork, he accepts that many larger animals are as threatened as various reports outline.

"But, we need to take a broader range of approaches to looking at extinction and extinction rates and look more carefully at other groups before we can extrapolate the rates of extinction from birds and mammals to the rest of biodiversity," he said.

ANI

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