plant extinction

Western Cape a hotspot for plant extinction – study

The Western Cape has been identified as a global hotspot for plant extinction in a study published by Nature Ecology and Evolution.

plant extinction

A study published in the Nature Ecology and Evolution journal showed plants are going extinct four times faster than originally thought and the Western Cape is one of the worst regions in the world for plant extinction.

The study was published by a joint team of researchers from the Royal Botanica Gardens in the United Kingdom and Stockholm University.

Plant extinction a growing problem

Their findings have blown apart long-held beliefs about how quickly plants are going extinct on the planet.

Until their research was published, it had been believed that fewer than 150 plant species had gone extinct in more than 200 years.

However, their paper showed at least 571 plants had vanished off the face of the earth since 1753. Which is nearly quadruple the rate.

Western Cape hotspot

Even more concerning for residents of South Africa and the Western Cape is their findings that plants were going extinct in the province at around 500 times the rate of the global average.

The Western Cape has lost 37 plant species over the time period of their research, out of a global total of 600. It is the second-worst area in the world behind Hawaii that has seen 79 plant species go extinct.

Just the ones we know about

The researchers were very forthright about the fact that these only include plants that humans have known about and there could, therefore, be many other plant species that have come and gone without us even knowing.

“Our study greatly advances understanding of ongoing extinction in plants and suggests that geography and life form best predict ongoing extinction,” the report read.

“The study of extinction inevitably comes with caveats. Extinctions of poorly known taxa may go unreported resulting in underestimation of rates; conversely, even for better-known taxa, low detectability may result in rate overestimation, revealed only by rediscovery.”