Endangered species data consists of information about the prevalence of animal and plant species in a region and the existential threats they face.
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, however: anyone can take conservation courses to learn how to assess species vulnerability. See, for example, the IUCN Red List training courses.
This data appears just as often in interactive maps as it does in columns. 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.
Researchers use this data to study 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.
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 often volunteer for study; researchers and conservationists must find them 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.
Other challenges include changing threats to habitats and species and changes in taxonomic classification.
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?
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