An alarming study shows that nearly 600 species of seed-bearing plants have gone extinct since 1753. About three species have disappeared annually since 1900, which is about 500 times faster than they would naturally.
The findings come on the heels of a bleak announcement from the United Nations that nearly 1 million species are facing extinction at the hands of humans, many within the coming decades.
Researchers analyzed a data set of more than 330,000 plant species collected over three decades by scientists at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens to determine which species were declared extinct and which were rediscovered or recategorized.
They found that 571 species have been wiped out, more than four times the number of plant extinctions recorded on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, which is often considered the global gold standard for conservation metrics.
Humans can cause plant extinction by overconsumption or by the introduction of invasive species that kill off others around them, both of which scientists consider causes of the increased extinction rates.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources maintains a list of the endangered and threatened species in the state, along with instructions on how Hoosiers can help protect the plants. The Indiana DNR also enforces restrictions on invasive species that threaten Indiana biodiversity. A list of the invasive species in Indiana can be found at the DNR invasive species webpage.