The first systematic assessment of carnivorous plants around the world by an international team led by Australia’s Curtin University found that a quarter of known species are at risk of imminent extinction.
In the study, published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation last September, scientists warned that “without urgent action, we will lose some of the most unique species from an ecological, evolutionary and interesting perspective. “.
During the first systematic examination of the status of threats to all species of carnivorous plants worldwide, the researchers compiled complete or partial assessments of the status of 860 carnivorous plant species.
The result was that 69 species (8% of all species) of carnivorous plants were assessed as being critically endangered, 47 species (6%) as threatened with extinction, 104 species (12%) as endangered, and 23 species. (3%) is considered close to the threat.
“Carnivorous plants” (CPs) are plants that have specific strategies to attract their prey from animals, capture and kill them and obtain nutrition by absorbing their biomass.
They appear in highly specialized and often very sensitive environments, where they are generally confined to habitats, which lack nutrients, so eating meat is a competitive advantage, and these plants can capture and eat flies, mice, salamanders and other creatures.
It was difficult to understand the existence of carnivorous plants before Charles Darwin first described how the “Venus flytrap” or “Venus flytrap” worked, describing it as “one of the most wonderful plants in the world,” some people simply did not believe.
Carnivorous plants are often the first species to disappear after habitat degradation, land use change, and change in natural environmental processes; So it is at great risk.
As of January 2020, 860 species of carnivorous plants in the world have been observed in wetland habitats, which represent some of the most degraded ecosystems on Earth. Wetlands are among the most vulnerable to clearance, logging and climate change. It puts the future of carnivorous plants in contradiction to human development and our emissions.
By aggregating complete or partial data from all known species, the researchers found that the carnivorous plants were most diverse in some of the most disorganized and turbulent regions of the planet, including Western Australia, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, Brazil and the eastern United States.
“At the global level, the biggest threats to carnivorous plants are the result of agricultural practices and modifications of natural systems, as well as the continent-wide environmental shifts caused by,” said botanist and ecologist Adam Cross of Curtin University in Australia in the statement posted on the SciMex website. Climate change”.
He says that in Western Australia, which has more carnivorous plant species than anywhere else on Earth, the biggest threat remains clearing habitats to meet human needs, resulting in hydrological changes and, of course, the climate trend of warming and drought affecting much of Australia.
Even if these plants do manage to escape human development projects and the effects of climate change, many of them have nowhere to go, as carnivorous plants are highly specialized, and many occupy very specific places. In the new analysis, it was found that no less than 89 known species exist in only one place.
According to the study, around the world, nearly a quarter of all species face 3 or more existential threats, including global climate change, land clearance for agriculture, mining and development, and illegal fishing.
To prevent these plants from disappearing in the near future, scientists say we need to take immediate action. “Conservation initiatives must be established immediately to prevent the loss of these species in the coming years and decades,” says taxonomist and field botanist Alistair Robinson of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in Australia.
Urgent global action is also needed to curb rates of habitat loss and land use change, particularly in areas that have already been heavily cleared and are home to many threatened carnivorous species, including Western Australia, Brazil, Southeast Asia and the United States of America.
Scientists say that if we can change our attitudes and actions as a global community, close the illegal market for carnivorous plants and implement better development regulations, we can save at least some of these species.