Data Deficient Species you have probably never heard about!
One of the first things you need for conserving a species, is knowing whether it is threatened or not. The most widely-accepted way of determining the extinction risk of a species is the methodology used by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. An animal or plant is assessed against 5 Criteria which look at population parameters such as distribution, population size and trend, reduction in numbers or habitat, and continuing decline due to ongoing threats. Based on the available information a species is assigned a category of threat – from Least Concern to Critically Endangered. You can find out more about these categories and criteria here.
However, you need data about the population of a species to apply this methodology, and there are many species out there that have simply not been researched enough, and very little is known about them. These species are often classified as Data Deficient (DD). There are currently more than 13,000 species assessed as DD on the global Red List, and it is highly likely that many of those are threatened. Here are 10 examples of DD species which you might have never heard about:
1. Snow Mountain Robin (Petroica archboldi)
This small bird is endemic to West Papua in Indonesia, and is found high up above the tree line, at altitudes around 4,000 m above sea level. It is one of only 61 birds assessed as DD at present. This species was originally described as abundant, and given that it is found at such high altitudes its habitat may not be immediately threatened. However, climate change could be a future threat to this species, since global warming could lead to suitable habitat shifting upwards. Scientists have recommended surveys of suitable mountain peak habitats within the species’ range and research into the ecological requirements and threats to the Snow Mountain Robin!