Scientists know the conservation status of about 86% of mammal species, thanks to the Red List from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The list has assessed only about 8% of plant species, however. Now, a new approach has provided a way to quickly determine the conservation status of plants, The Guardian reports—and the results are dire. Scientists tested an algorithm that considered factors including population reduction and habitat decline on a database of more than 20,000 plants from across tropical Africa. The results? About 7000 of those species are in danger of extinction, researchers reported last week in Science Advances. The new approach, though not a replacement for the careful examination that scientists perform for the IUCN Red List, provides a rapid way to judge the state of species. But some researchers warn such approaches could lead to unnecessarily alarmist results, and they emphasize the importance of smaller, locally focused studies to assess at-risk species.
*Correction, 3 December, 5 p.m.: The photo accompanying this story has been updated. The previous photo showed at least one plant that is not native to Africa and is considered invasive.