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In 2014, Atlantic Forest/Mata Atlântica was the biome with the highest number of species threatened with extinction

Section: Geosciences

November 05, 2020 10h00 AM | Last Updated: November 13, 2020 11h36 AM

The survey “Ecosystem Accounting: Species Threatened with Extinction in Brazil”, which the IBGE releases today, shows that in 2014 there were 3,299 threatened species of animals and plants in Brazil, which represents 19.8% of the total of 16,645 species surveyed. Of these threatened species, 1,989 were in the Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica).

Currently, 49,168 species of plants and 117,096 species of animals are recognized in Brazil. Of this total, the survey analyzed the 4,617 flora species and the 12,262 fauna species listed by the Centro Nacional de Conservação da Flora do Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (National Center for Plant Conservation of the Botanic Garden of Rio de Janeiro - CNCFlora/JBRJ) and by the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation - ICMBio). The lists bring information on the conservation status of the species and represents, respectively, 11.26% and 10.13% of the total recognized species.

The study analyzed the 2014 lists of the official national species and the monitoring of their conservation, published by ICMBio and CNCFlora/JBRJ. The Threatened Species Accounting is included in the IBGE's Environmental Economic Accounting.

Of the analyzed species, 0.06% are classified as extinct, 0.01% as extinct in the wild, 4.73% as critically threatened, 9.35% as threatened, 5.74% as vulnerable, 3.98% as near threatened, 62.82% as least concern and 13.33% were classified as data deficient, indicating the need for more studies. The group of threatened species includes the categories of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species

The Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) was the biome with the most threatened species, both in absolute numbers (1,989) and proportionally (25.0%). Then comes the Cerrado, with 1,061 threatened species, 19.7% of the total species in the biome, and the Caatinga (366 species, or 18.2%). The Pampa, despite having a lower number of threatened species (194 species), presents a similar proportion (14.5%).

The Pantanal and the Amazon (Amazônia), on the other hand, have the highest proportions of species in the 'least concern' category (88.7% and 84.3%, respectively) and also the lowest percentage of species considered threatened (3.8% and 4.7% , respectively).

In absolute numbers, there are 54 threatened species in the Pantanal and 278 in the Amazon (Amazônia).

The survey analyzed the fauna and flora according to their presence in the biomes - Amazon/Amazônia, Cerrado, Caatinga, Atlantic Forest/Mata Atlântica, Pampa, Pantanal and Sea and oceanic islands - and types of ecosystem realms (terrestrial, freshwater and marine). The same species can occur in different biomes and ecosystem realms. Thus, 47.7% of the species were found in the Mata Atlântica, 35.7% in the Amazônia, 32.4% in the Cerrado, 12.4% in the Sea and islands, 12.1% in the Caatinga, 8.4% in the Pantanal and 8.0% in Pampa.

At least ten species are extinct: the birds Maçarico-esquimó (Numenius borealis), Gritador-do-nordeste (Cichlocolaptes mazarbarnetti), Limpa-folha-do-nordeste (Philydor novaesi), Peito-vermelho-grande (Sturnella defilippii), Arara-azul-pequena (Anodorhynchus glaucus), and Caburé-de-pernambuco (Glaucidium mooreorum); the amphibian Perereca-verde-de-fímbria (Phrynomedusa fimbriata); the mamal Rato-de-Noronha (Noronhomys vespuccii); and the marine fish Tubarão-dente-de-agulha (Carcharhinus isodon), and Tubarão-lagarto (Schroederichthys bivius).

In addition, there is another species extinct in the wild (i. e., depending on captive breeding programs): the Mutum-do-Nordeste (Pauxi mitu), a native bird to the Mata Atlântica.

Mata Atlântica is the biome with the most threatened species

The Mata Atlântica was the biome with the highest number of threatened fauna and flora species: 1,989, equivalent to 25% (or one in four) of the total species assessed in the biome.

The Mata Atlântica also concentrates the largest number of extinct species (6), being the original biome of Mutum-do-Nordeste (Pauxi mitu), a species currently extinct in the wild, whose survival depends on captive breeding programs.

This region has the largest presence of anthropized environments, that is, those where human interference is observed, as shown in the first edition of the Ecosystem Accounting, released by the IBGE this year.

About 12% of the analyzed species present in the Mata Atlântica are categorized as ‘data deficient’. This is the second largest proportion among the ecological groups analyzed, only behind the more than 14% in the Sea and Oceanic islands.

More than a thousand Cerrado species are threatened

The second largest number of threatened species was found in the Cerrado biome: 1,061, which represents 19.7% of the total assessed species in the biome.

It is also noteworthy that 216 (4.0%) species found in the biome are ‘critically endangered’ and 202 (3.7%) are considered ‘near threatened’. The butterfly Parides burchellanus and the lizard Bachia psamophila, for example, endemic to the biome, are in the ‘critically endangered’ category.

About 10% of Cerrado species are categorized as ‘data deficient’. In addition, the biome has the second lowest proportion of species in the category ‘least concern’ (67.0%).

Pantanal and Amazônia have the highest percentages of ‘least concern’ species

In the Caatinga, 18.2% of the species assessed in the biome are ‘threatened’ (366) and 9.4% are ‘endangered’ (190). The Pampa biome, despite having a lower number of endangered species than the previously mentioned biomes (194 species), has a similar proportion to the others (14.5%).

The Pantanal and the Amazônia have the highest proportions of species analyzed in the ‘least concern’ category (88.7% and 84.3%, respectively), and also the lowest percentage of species considered ‘threatened’ (3.8% and 4, 7%, respectively). In absolute numbers, there are 54 threatened species in the Pantanal and 278 in the Amazon.

Eight terrestrial animals analyzed are extinct

Regarding the fauna in the terrestrial realm, the largest proportion of threatened species is found in the oceanic islands, with 30 threatened species, or 38.5% of the total terrestrial species in the Sea and islands.

The Mata Atlântica has an absolute higher number of threatened terrestrial animals (426), but a smaller proportion (12.8% of the total terrestrial species in the Mata Atlântica). Both the islands and the Mata Atlântica are characterized by many species with restricted distributions, which makes these regions of special interest for conservation.

Terrestrial fauna species, by conservation status, by biomes

There are six extinct terrestrial animals in the Mata Atlântica, two in the Pampa, one in the Pantanal and one in the Sea and islands, and the same species can be present in different biomes and ecosystem realms, as is the case of the Maçarico-esquimó bird (Numenius borealis), which used to be found in the Mata Atlântica, the Pampa and the Pantanal and is also classified as freshwater fauna. The Peito-vermelho-grande bird (Sturnella defilippii), which used to be found in the Pampa, is another example of extinct species, as well as the Noronhomys vespuccii rodent, which was endemic to the Fernando de Noronha isand. In the Mata Atlântica, as already mentioned, there is still one species in the ‘extinct in the wild’ category, the Mutum-do-Nordeste.

In Pampa, freshwater fauna is more threatened than terrestrial fauna

The fauna in freshwater realms has slightly lower proportions of threatened species compared to land fauna. The Mata Atlântica is also the biome with the most threatened species of freshwater fauna. However, the Pampa biome is the only one in which the freshwater realm has a higher proportion of threatened species than the terrestrial realm (48 species, 8.4% of the freshwater species of the Pampa, against 5.4% in the terrestrial realm).

There are two species of freshwater fauna in the ‘extinct’ category: the Perereca-verde-de-fímbria (Phrynomedusa fimbriata), a frog which used to be found in the Mata Atlântica, and the Maçarico-esquimó bird (Numenius borealis).

In this realm, the highest proportions of species classified as ‘data deficient’ for most regions are observed, highlighting the need for better data for groups such as continental fish and freshwater invertebrates.

Freshwater fauna species,by conservation status, according to biomes