Where extinct in the wild species fit into conservation

Species that only exist in places like zoos and aquariums are often left out of conservation assessments

Some species would be totally extinct if not for them living in places like zoos or aquariums. Those species are at the highest risk of extinction under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, but they aren’t required to have the detailed assessments that threatened or endangered species have in the wild. As a result, researchers don’t know much about the extent of the risks of losing these extinct in the wild species. Researchers recently tried to close this gap a bit by conducting a review synthesizing data on extinct in the wild plant and animal species to more comprehensively understand their state and conservation history. The team looked at 84 extinct in the wild species including 40 animals and 44 plants and found that most extinct in the wild populations are small with low genetic diversity.

Read the review in Science.

Header Image: The Pinta Island Giant Galapagos Tortoise has been extinct in the wild since 2012. Credit: Credit Arturo de Frias Marques