Incorporating global change reveals increased extinction risk than the current Red List

Shijia Peng, Nawal Shrestha, Yuan Luo, Yaoqi Li, Hongyu Cai, Haining Qin, Keping Ma, Zhiheng Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global changes over the past few decades have caused species distribution shifts and triggered population declines and local extinctions of many species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (Red List) is regarded as the most comprehensive tool for assessing species extinction risk and has been used at regional, national, and global scales. However, most Red Lists rely on the past and current status of species populations and distributions but do not adequately reflect the risks induced by future global changes. Using distribution maps of >4,000 endemic woody species in China, combined with ensembled species distribution models, we assessed the species threat levels under future climate and land-cover changes using the projected changes in species’ suitable habitats and compared our updated Red List with China’s existing Red List. We discover an increased number of threatened species in the updated Red List and increased threat levels of >50% of the existing threatened species compared with the existing one. Over 50% of the newly identified threatened species are not adequately covered by protected areas. The Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, rather than the Hengduan Mountains, is the distribution center of threatened species on the updated Red Lists, as opposed to the threatened species on the existing Red List. Our findings suggest that using Red Lists without considering the impacts of future global changes will underestimate the extinction risks and lead to a biased estimate of conservation priorities, potentially limiting the ability to meet the Kunming-Montreal global conservation targets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1016/j.cub.2023.07.047
Pages (from-to)3669-3678
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2023


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