Through years of effort, scientists have assessed the conservation status of some 77,000 species of plants and animals via the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Scientific records on the distribution and abundance of species over time allow them to evaluate how close each one is to extinction. But scientists still lack the data needed to assess the rest of the 1.5 million or so species known to exist, let alone a potential 7 million that haven’t even been described yet. Without its risk of extinction being classified, a species can miss out on conservation funding and attention. But without funding, the information needed to assess extinction risk can’t be collected. To overcome this Catch 22 some conservationists have recently been tapping in to a resource that costs nothing and has actually been there all along: volunteers.
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November 29, 2015