20% of Species Risk Extinction

Amphibians in special danger
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2010 12:01 PM CDT
A endangered Newell's shearwater seabird is held by Kauai Humane Society technician Solny Adalsteinsson, Oct. 16, 2010 in Kapaa, Hawaii on the island of Kauai.   (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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(Newser) – A whopping 20% of the world’s species are on the brink of extinction, according to a new study unveiled at the UN Biodiversity Summit in Japan. The Red List of Threatened Species now includes a staggering 41% of amphibians, with the heaviest losses coming from Southeast Asia, where habitats are rapidly being destroyed as forests are cleared to grow food and biofuel crops, the BBC explains.

“The ‘backbone’ of biodiversity is being eroded,” said one Harvard ecologist. “One small step up the Red List is one giant leap forward towards extinction.” But there is hope: the scientists behind the study also found that “really focused conservation efforts work when we do them.” Humpback whales for example have, thanks to a ban on commercial whaling, come off the list entirely.

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