Rapid Least Concern: towards automating Red List assessments

Prize-winning tool simplifies and automates plant Red List assessments and enables direct submission to IUCN

Euphorbia blodgettii
Euphorbia blodgettii Engelm. ex Hitchc. observed in Bermuda by Mike Oldham (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Supporting global conservation planning and safeguarding critical habitat, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is a crucial resource for protecting biodiversity worldwide. While coverage among vertebrates is good, plants, fungi and invertebrates represent major gaps—potentially due to complicated and time-consuming procedures involved in assessing species.

Addressing the challenge of accelerating the generation of Least Concern (LC) Red List assessments, Rapid Least Concern (RLC), a simple but prize-winning web-based tool, takes advantage of free and open biodiversity data from GBIF to perform fast analyses of single or multiple plant species, outputting files compliant with direct submission to the IUCN database.

Based on a species, the tool derives the number of unique, native occurrences and the number of regions in which the species is present while calculating the extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO). Set thresholds for each of these values determine whether a species can be designated LC.

Using Bermuda as a case study, the authors compiled a list of 172 native plant species, of which only 38 had been previously assessed. Using RLC on the remaining 134 species, they were able to increase the number of assessed species to 85 per cent, of which 109 species could be designated LC and were thus submitted to IUCN for inclusion in the Red List.

Bachman S, Walker B, Barrios S, Copeland A and Moat J (2020) Rapid Least Concern: towards automating Red List assessments. Biodiversity Data Journal. Pensoft Publishers 8. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3897/bdj.8.e47018