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What Is Endangered Species Data?

Endangered species data consists of information about the prevalence of animal and plant species in a region and focuses on the existential threats they face.

Where Does Endangered Species Data Come From?

Information about the numbers and range of threatened and endangered species comes from scientific observation. The information is then verified officially by national or international bodies, such as the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Not all scientific observation needs to come from scientists, anyone can take conservation courses to learn how to assess species’ vulnerability. See, for example, the IUCN Red List training courses.

What Types of Columns/Attributes Should I Expect When Working with This Data?

This data can appear in interactive maps or in columns of information. However, standard data attributes, aside from species, include ecoregion, threats, and status. The IUCN Red List offers nine statuses: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, Data Deficient, and Not Evaluated.

Other organizations may have their own statuses list but the Red List is the largest and most used resource around the world.

What Is This Data Used For?

Researchers use this data to study endangered animal and plant species as well as the environments they live in. Conservationists also use this data to work to enhance the biodiversity of a region or of the planet in general.

How Should I Test the Quality of Endangered Species Data?

With less than 5% of known species on the planet measured for endangered status, one of the greatest challenges of this category is the lack of comprehensiveness. In addition, plants and wild animals don’t volunteer for study; researchers and conservationists must track them down to record their prevalence. In short, the recording of this data is one of the greatest challenges of this data category and the only solution is further study and observation.

Changing threats to habitats and species and changes in taxonomic classification are other challenges experienced.

Interesting Case Studies and Blogs to Look Into

IUCN Red List
BCGI Threat Search

Tangible Examples of Impact

Unfortunately, big data also risks harming endangered and vulnerable wildlife.

Cybersecurity news often focuses on how hackers access personal information, bank accounts, social media, and government data. But what if “cyberpoachers” started targeting information on the locations of endangered species through their animal tracking data?

PBS: The 21st Century Threat to Wildlife is “Cyberpoaching”

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