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Ash and elm join the Swedish Red List

28 April 2010 Expertsvar

The loss of biodiversity in Sweden continues, notwithstanding a political target to halt the loss by 2010. This may be seen from Sweden's new Red List, published today. Meanwhile, the status of several species has improved thanks to nature conservation initiatives.

Over 4,000 of the 21,000 species assessed by the Swedish Species Information Centre are not considered to have Swedish populations that are viable in the long term. The trend is worst for marine life, and there are signs that biodiversity is also deteriorating in the mountains. Unfortunately, the situation in forest and farmland habitats remains unchanged; these landscapes are where the majority of red listed species are found. However, long-term nature conservation work in freshwater habitats has begun to bear fruit –some amphibian species are among those whose status has improved.

New species on the Red List include fish such as lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus), whiting (Merlangius merlangus) and burbot (Lota lota) which have all declined considerably. The eel remains Critically Endangered and has been joined by the piked dogfish (Squalus acanthias). The Swedish freshwater crayfish is in rapid decline as a result of crayfish plague, and is also Critically Endangered.

The ash (Fraxinus excelsior)– the 'world tree' of Norse mythology – together with all three species of elm found in Sweden (wych elm (Ulmus glabra), field elm (Ulmus minor) and European white elm (Ulmus laevis)) have also been red-listed.

"They have been attacked and killed by fungal diseases. But it is essential that they are not cut down unnecessarily, because many insects and cryptogams depend on them," says Professor Ulf Gärdenfors.

But the new Red List also brings some good news. The wolf, lynx, wolverine and brown bear have all been classified as less threatened than on the last list. The brown bear has been removed from the list completely, since its numbers are now considered to represent a viable population. Under fish, the wels catfish (Siluris glanis) and asp (Aspius aspius) have also been given a less critical classification following several years' conservation work. The fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) has left the list entirely, as did the European tree frog (Hyla arborea) and the edible frog (Rana esculenta) when the last version of the list was published, again as a result of successful nature conservation.

The Red List is to be presented on 28 April at the Swedish Species Information Centre annual conference on flora and fauna conservation, held in Uppsala at the Ultuna campus of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Read more at http://www.artdata.slu.se/flofa/

Background information:

The Red List presents the animals, plants and fungi that are not considered to have long-term viable populations in Sweden. Assessments are based on IUCN international criteria. This is the third Swedish Red List based on these criteria and is the result of two years' work in which the Swedish Species Information Centre and its 14 expert committees have analysed the status of 20,800 species. The Red List is produced by the Swedish Species Information Centre at the instigation of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The Swedish Species Information Centre is a national centre for knowledge on Sweden's wild plants, fungi and animals. Known information about the occurrence, ecology etc. of species is compiled and made available online from databases. The national Red List is produced on the basis of this knowledge. The list represents an assessment of the species that risk becoming extinct in Sweden. The Species Information Centre monitors the status of species and habitats given priority in the European Union. The Centre is also responsible for the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative, including the Encyclopedia of the Swedish Flora and Fauna. The Species Information Centre forms an administrative unit of SLU - the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and is also an important interface between researchers, conservations and the general public.

http://www.artdata.slu.se

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