Biodiv Sci ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (5): 589-595.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2014.14085

• Original Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Assessing the Red List Index for vertebrate species in China

Peng Cui1, Haigen Xu1,*(), Jun Wu1, Hui Ding1, Mingchang Cao1, Xiaoqiang Lu1, Fan Yong1,2, Bing Chen1,2   

  1. 1 Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Environmental Protection/ State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory on Biosafety, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Nanjing 210042
    2 College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046
  • Received:2014-04-18 Accepted:2014-09-15 Online:2014-09-20 Published:2014-10-09
  • Contact: Xu Haigen


The Red List Index (RLI) is widely recognized as the most authoritative and objective index for assessing the risk of extinction for species. Good results have been achieved in the application of RLI in assessment of the progress of United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals at global scale. In this paper, RLI was applied at national scale based on multi-source data from International Union for Conservation of Nature, BirdLife International, Red List Categories in China Red Data Book (1998) and China Species Red List (2004) to evaluate trends in the status of vertebrate species in China. RLI of amphibians and reptiles were not assessed because of a lack of data. From 1996 to 2008, the RLI of China's mammals decreased, so did that of China's freshwater fishes from 1998 to 2004. The RLI of birds calculated using Equal-steps method decreased slightly between 1988 and 2012; however, when RLI was calculated using Extinction-risk method, the index initially increased slightly and then turned downward. Due to habitat degradation and loss, the threat status of mammals and freshwater fishes has been increasing. Overall, the threat status of birds is increasing though there were some improvements in the status of critically endangered species. We suggest that more taxonomic groups should be assessed using Red List guidelines so that calculation of RLI is possible. And on the basis of RLI, governments and decision makers should make more effective conservation plans for endangered species.

Key words: vertebrate, endangerment species, endangered status, mammals, birds, freshwater fishes