The Red List of Threatened Species, Scottish wildcats and the western barbastelle

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published the latest Red List of Threatened Species edition. Information about 157,000 species is approximately 7,000 more than in 2022. Just over 44,000 species are at risk of extinction – approx. 2,000. More than in last year’s update. According to the report, climate change and rising temperatures threaten, among others, salmon and turtle populations (e.g. green sea turtle and Atlantic salmon). The update includes the first comprehensive assessment of the health status of freshwater fish species. One-quarter of them – just over 3,000 species – are threatened with extinction. Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians suffer the most – approximately 41% of these species are endangered.

Scottish scientists are preparing to identify and remove DNA that Scottish wildcats acquired from domestic cats due to many years of interbreeding. The local wildcats are critically endangered because all individuals now show traces of interbreeding with cats, and many have few “wild” features. How do researchers want to help wildcats? “This process is called deintrogression and is the scientific equivalent of trying to break down an egg into its individual components,” explains project leader Dan Lawson from the University of Bristol, who deals with genomics.

Experts from the University of Exeter and the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) concluded that the 99 per cent decline in the western barbastelle population in Great Britain began when trees began to be cut down to build ships 500 years ago. The discovery was made possible thanks to the analysis of the bat’s DNA.

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