Recent studies clarify where the most vulnerable species live, where and how humanity changes the planet, and how this drives extinctions. We assess key statistics about species, their distribution, and their status. Most are undescribed. Those we know best have large geographical ranges and are often common within them. Most known species have small ranges. The numbers of small-ranged species are increasing quickly, even in well-known taxa. They are geographically concentrated and are disproportionately likely to be threatened or already extinct. Current rates of extinction are about 1000 times the likely background rate of extinction. Future rates depend on many factors and are poised to increase. Although there has been rapid progress in developing protected areas, such efforts are not ecologically representative, nor do they optimally protect biodiversity.
The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection
S. L. Pimm, C. N. Jenkins, R. Abell, T. M. Brooks, J. L. Gittleman, L. N. Joppa, P. H. Raven, C. M. Roberts, J. O. Sexton
Science 30 May 2014:
Vol. 344 no. 6187