Biodiversity Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (5): 453-463.doi: 10.17520/biods.2016134

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Research advances and challenges in the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems

Jianbo Tan1, 2, Ainong Li1, *(), Guangbin Lei1, Guoke Chen3, Keping Ma3   

  1. 1 Research Center for Digital Mountain and Remote Sensing Application, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2016-05-15 Accepted:2017-02-27 Online:2017-06-06
  • Li Ainong E-mail:ainongli@imde.ac.cn

The Red List of Ecosystems is a growing toolbox for assessing risks to biodiversity at the ecosystem level, which is complementary to the Red List of Threatened Species and important for the protection of key species’ habitats. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Criteria was adopted as an official global standard for assessing the risks to ecosystems by the IUCN Council. With the revision and extension of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Criteria, this framework is gradually improved, which plays an important role in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. However, it faces challenges in ecosystem mapping, the concepts of ecosystem collapse and practical application. This paper reviews the development of the Red List of Ecosystems and introduces the five criterions in the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems protocol (declining in distribution, restricted distribution, abiotic degradation, biotic degradation and quantitative estimates of risk of ecosystem collapse) and how it is used. While focusing on the challenges in the assessment with the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Criteria, we also discuss the potential solutions to these problems based on remote sensing and ecological models. We points out that the explicit definition of ecosystem collapse and the classification system of ecosystems is essential for applying the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Criteria; the scale effects have great impacts on the results of assessment; assessment at hierarchical scales may be a potential method to provide spatial information for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems; incorporating remote sensing and ecological models into this framework is an important way to study the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Criteria in the near future.

Key words: IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, threatened status of ecosystem, scale effects, biodiversity

Fig. 1

Results derived from proportional rate of decline versus absolute rate of decline (adapted from Rodríguez et al, 2015)"

Fig. 2

The diagram of habitat restricted distribution (Criterion B). Extent of Occurrence (EOO) is 28,249 km2 and Area of Occupancy (AOO) is 88 (adapted from Keith et al, 2013)."

Fig. 3

The steps followed for the application of IUCN of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria (adapted from Rodríguez et al, 2015)"

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