Species loss

Wetland species disappear

Of the 25,000 known species of fish in the world, 10,000 (40% ) live in freshwater. Yet the freshwater in rivers, lakes and wetlands makes up less than 0.01% of the world's water.

In terms of their size relative to the earth's surface, freshwater ecosystems - wetlands, rivers and lakes - account for a disproportionately large fraction of global biodiversity...

...but freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity are faring poorly.
  • In the United States it is estimated that 54% of original wetlands have been lost, 87% of which to agricultural development.
  • In France, 67% of wetlands have been lost in the period 1900 to 1993.
  • The Netherlands have lost 55% of wetlands in only 35 years between 1950 and 1985.

The 2006 WWF Living Planet Report shows that populations of terrestrial, freshwater and marine species fell by around 30 per cent between 1970 and 2003.

The index tracks trends in populations of more than a thousand species.
Scarlet ibis and Roseate spoonbill in wetlands. Brazil. / ©: WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN
Scarlet ibis and Roseate spoonbill in wetlands. Brazil.
© WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN

In focus

A recent World Bank Environment report suggests that 25 to 30% of freshwater fishes are vulnerable, endangered or extinct.

  • Of seven freshwater dolphins, three are endangered and another vulnerable
  • of 23 crocodile species, 10 are threatened;
  • of 143 species of tortoises, turtles and terrapins, 82 are threatened or near-threatened, most being freshwater turtles.
Temperate and tropical species populations declined by around 30 per cent overall from 1970 to 2003.

Temperate and tropical
            freshwater Living Planet Indices. Temperate
            and tropical species populations declined by
            around 30 per cent overall from 1970 to 2003.
 

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