IUCN Red List of Ecosystems

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystem is one of the most powerful tools currently available for the synthesis and analysis of existing biodiversity data. It has been designed to effectively integrate disparate data to achieve an objective, spatially explicit and easily communicated assessment of the current status of biodiversity. During 2008-2012, a new theoretical framework for assessing risks to ecosystems was developed to underpin new criteria for an IUCN Red list of Ecosystems, described in Keith et al (2013). The categories and criteria for assessing ecosystem risk were officially adopted by the IUCN in May 2014, to complement the Red List of Threatened Species and provide a comprehensive assessment of global biodiversity.

Ecosystems are assessed against scientific criteria to estimate the risk of ecosystem collapse, and assigned to threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) and non-threatened categories. Ecosystems that are profoundly degraded or transformed are assessed as Collapsed. The assessment criteria relate to changes in ecosystem distribution (criteria A & B) and function (criteria C, D & E). The criteria and the science behind them are described in detail in Keith et al. (2013) and other papers (see some below, and also here). Changes in Red List status over time reflect on-going degradation or recovery, and can provide evidence for the effectiveness of conservation and restoration actions. Repeat assessments can measure progress towards goals, such as the Aichi Targets and SDGs.

Along with David Keith and other collaborators, we currently have an ARC Linkage grant on testing the criteria. Lucie Bland is the Melbourne-based postdoc on the grant (Nick Murray is the postdoc at UNSW). CIs include David Keith, Richard Kingsford (UNSW), Emily Nicholson, Tracey Regan, Mark Burgman (University of Melbourne), Rebecca Lester (Deakin), Jon Paul Rodriguez (IUCN), Dan Rogers (SA government) and Tony Auld (NSW Government).

Researchers: Emily Nicholson, Lucie Bland, Matt Linn, Jess Rowland.

Collaborators include David Keith, Nick Murray, Richard Kingsford(UNSW), Tracey Regan (ARI), Mark Burgman (University of Melbourne), Rebecca Lester (Deakin), Jon Paul Rodriguez (IUCN), Tina Oliviera-Miranda (Provita) and Rebecca Miller (IUCN) – see more below.

Key publications (also see here):

Keith, D.A., Rodríguez, J.P., Brooks, T.M., Burgman, M.A., Barrow, E.G., Bland, L., Comer, P.J., Franklin, J., Link, J., McCarthy, M.A., Miller, R.M., Murray, N.J., Nel, J., Nicholson, E., Olivera-Miranda, M.A., Regan, T.J., Rodríguez-Clark, K.M., Rouget, M. & Spalding, M.D. (2015) The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems: motivations, challenges and applications. Conservation Letters, 8 (3): 214–226 [link].

Nicholson E., Regan T.J., Auld T.D., Burns E., Chisholm L.A., English V., Harris S., Harrison P., Kingsford R.T., Leishman M.R., Metcalfe D.J., Pisanu P., Watson C.J., White M., White M.D., Williams R.J., Wilson B. & Keith D.A. (2015). Towards consistency, rigour and compatibility of risk assessments for ecosystems and ecological communities. Austral Ecology, 40 (4): 347–363 [link], part of a special issue on Ecosystem risk assessment.

Rodríguez, J.P., Keith, D.A., Rodríguez-Clark, K.M., Murray, N.J., Nicholson, E., Regan, T.J., Miller, R.M., Barrow, E.G., Bland, L.M., Boe, K., Brooks, T.M., Oliveira-Miranda, M.A., Spalding, M. & Wit, P. (2015) A practical guide to the application of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria. Philosophical Transactions of Royal Society B, 370: 20140003, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0003 [link].

Keith D.A., Rodríguez J.P., Rodríguez-Clark K.M., Nicholson E., Aapala K., Alonso A., Asmussen M., Bachman S., Bassett A., Barrow E.G., Benson J.S., Bishop M.J., Bonifacio R., Brooks T.M., Burgman M.A., Comer P., Comín F.A., Essl F., Faber-Langendoen D., Fairweather P.G., Holdaway R.J., Jennings M., Kingsford R.T., Lester R.E., Mac Nally R., McCarthy M.A., Moat J., Oliveira-Miranda M.A., Pisanu P., Poulin B., Regan T.J., Riecken U., Spalding M.D. & Zambrano-Martínez S. (2013) Scientific foundations for an IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. PLoS ONE, 8(5): e62111 [link]

Rodríguez, J. P., K. M. Rodríguez-Clark, D. A. Keith, E. G. Barrow, J. Benson, E. Nicholson and P. Wit (2012) IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. S.A.P.I.EN.S [Online] 5.2

Rodriguez J.P., Rodriguez-Clark K.M., Baillie J.E.M., Ash N., Benson J., Boucher T., Brown C., Burgess N., Collen B., Jennings M., Keith D.A., Nicholson E., Revenga C., Reyers B., Rouget M., Smith T., Spalding M., Taber A., Walpole M., Zager I. & Zamin T. (2011). Establishing IUCN Red List Criteria for threatened ecosystems. Conservation Biology, 25, 21-29. [link]

Nicholson E., D. A. Keith, and D. S. Wilcove (2009) Assessing the threat status of ecological communities. Conservation Biology, 23 (2): 259-274. [link]