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Red Data Book

Red Data Book: History, Colour coding, Types of species categories, Advantages, disadvantages, Red Data Book of India, Practice Problems and FAQs

We live in a world surrounded with a variety of organisms. Just look around, starting from small ants to big elephants you can see a variety of organisms around you. We have seen the movies ‘ICE AGES’ and we know that a variety of organisms disappeared from this world due to various reasons. Now you know that due to various reasons extinctions are happening now also on Earth. Have you ever heard about Dodo? Yes it is a bird that has become extinct due to hunting and indiscriminate killing. It belongs to Mauritius. The invasion of the island by alien species like pigs, rats and other domestic animals saw that the eggs and chicks of this ground-laying bird can be an easy feed for most of them.

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                                      Fig: Dodo

Similarly there are many species that become extinct in the near future. We can save these species from extinction by adopting various measures. Do you know where the information about all the extinct, endangered, and vulnerable species is stored? Yes, there is a book called Red Data Book that contains all the information about extinct, endangered, and vulnerable species. Let’s take a deep dive into the details of the Red Data Book in this article.

Table of contents

  • Red Data Book
  • History of Red Data Book
  • Colour coding of Red Data Book
  • Aim and objectives of the Red Data Book
  • Types of species
  • Advantages of Red Data Book
  • Disadvantages of Red Data Book
  • Red Data Book of India
  • Practice Problems
  • FAQs

Red Data Book

The Red Data Book is referred to as the public document that records the information about all rare and endangered species of plants, animals, and fungi existing within the boundary of a state or territory. It can be considered as a catalogue of species facing the risk of extinction. This book also contains the records of local subspecies that are native to a particular region. The Red Data Book assists us in gathering comprehensive data for research, studies, and monitoring programs involving rare and endangered animals and their ecosystems. The purpose of creating the Red Data Book is to identify and protect the species that are on the verge of extinction.

History of Red Data Book

The Red Data Book originated in Russia and earlier it was known as the Red Data Book of the Russian federation. The book was created based on the research conducted by biologists between 1961 to 1964 in Russia and published in 1979. Therefore, it is known as the Russian red data book.

The Red Data Book is published and maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) now to raise awareness of endangered species. IUCN is considered as the world’s comprehensive inventory centre of global conservation.

The Red Data Book is a catalogue that provides information about all the endangered species of plants and animals. It also provides information about the population status of several species i.e. the degree of threat to the species. The complete list of threatened species can be found in the Red Data Book.

Major goal of Red Data Book

The major goal of the Red Data Book is to give comprehensive information for species research and analysis. Besides the IUCN Red List, individual states and countries normally maintain regional and national Red Data books too. These regional and national Red Data Books provide details about the complete list of species which are threatened within their regional boundaries.

Colour coding in Red Data Book

The Red Data Book is a collection of colour-coded information sheets organised by the danger of extinction for a variety of species and subspecies. The colour coding is done in the following way:

  • Black colour represents the species that are confirmed to be extinct.
  • Red colour represents the endangered species.
  • Amber colour represents those species that are considered to be vulnerable.
  • Green colour represents all species that are out of danger. The species which were previously endangered but whose number started to recover fall under this category.
  • Grey colour indicates those species that are classified as vulnerable, endangered or rare but sufficient information is not available about these species.
  • White colour represents all rare species which are not evaluated.


                                            Fig: Colour coding in Red Data Book

Criteria used to assess the extinction risks of the species

A set of five quantitative criteria is used by the IUCN system to assess the extinction risk of a given species. The following are the major criteria considered:

  • The geographic range of the species.
  • The rate of population decline.
  • The size of the species is very small or they live in a restricted area.
  • Quantitative analysis done on the particular species indicates a high probability of extinction in the wild.
  • The species already possess a small population size in their habitat.

Aim and objectives of the Red Data Book

As per the IUCN (1966), the aim and objectives of the Red Data Book are as follows:

  • Provide evidence-based information with regard to the situation of all subspecies and species worldwide.
  • Highlight the rate at which different species are becoming endangered and extinct in the world.
  • Provide valuable insights into biodiversity.
  • Take effective actions for conserving biological diversity.
  • To serve as a channel for research and studies of all endangered species on the planet Earth.

Types of species categories in the Red Data book

The Red Data Book indexes the following types of species:

  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct in the wild (EW)
  • Critically endangered (CE)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Data Deficient (DD)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)

Extinct species (EX)

Extinct species are referred to as those species whose individuals are not alive anywhere in the world. This results in the disappearance of species. This is also known as extinction. Examples of extinct species include dodo (Raphus cucullatus), mammoth (Mammuthus), Thylacine or Thylacinus cynocephalus (Australia), great auk (Pinguinus impennis), Steller's sea cow or Hydrodamalis gigas (Russia), Quagga or Equus quagga quagga (Africa) etc.


                Fig: Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus)

Extinct in the wild species (EW)

According to the IUCN list, they are referred to as those species that are growing or existing only as an artificially supported population far outside their historical geographic range in captivity, with no recorded individuals growing or existing independently in a natural habitat. Examples include Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis) and Wyoming toad (Anaxyrus baxteri).


         Fig: Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis)

Critically endangered species (CE)

According to the IUCN list, these species are categorised as those ones that are at a very high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. Their population declined 80 to more than 90 percent over the past 10 years. The reasons include rapid population reduction, geographic reduction, low number of adults, and low overall population size. Examples include the following:

  • Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) is a mammal and only 150 remain in India.
  • Podophyllum or mayapple is a perennial plant.
  • Malabar civet (Viverra civettina) is a mammal.
  • Spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) is a bird.


             Fig: Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania)

Endangered species (EN)

Endangered species are referred to as those species that are considered at the risk of extinction. Their population declined from 50 to more than 70 percent over the past 10 years. Examples of endangered species include giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) of the Western Ghats of India, blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) of Rann of Kutch, black lemur (Eulemur macaco), Siberian crane (Leucogeranus leucogeranus) of the Ghana National Park.

Any species becomes endangered due to two reasons as follows:

  • The loss of habitat
  • The loss of genetic diversity.


                   Fig: Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Vulnerable species (VU)

A species is considered to be vulnerable if it is not already in danger of extinction but is at a high risk of going extinct in the near future due to habitat loss or population decline. Their population declined from 30 to more than 50 percent over the past 10 years. Examples include Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii), Nicobar flying fox (Pteropus faunulus) etc. Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra) of the Ghana National Park, a clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) of South-East China, Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsii).


                               Fig: Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra)

Near Threatened species (NT)

Near threatened species are those species that become extinct in the near future but not yet qualified as a vulnerable species. Examples include African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), Angel fish (Pterophyllum), etc.


                    Fig: Angel fish (Pterophyllum)

Least concern species (LC)

They are classified as least concern species because they do not seem to be in immediate danger and environmentalists do not concentrate on these species. Unless they have been examined by scientists, the IUCN will not add a species to the list of species of Least Concern. Additionally, LC animals have a category even though they are not red-listed.

Data deficient species (DD)

According to the IUCN list, these are those species that do not provide sufficient information for a proper assessment of conservation status that has to be prepared. These include cat snakes (Boiga), cobras (Naja naja), dragonfish (Stomiidae), hagfish (Myxine) etc.


                                                      Fig: Cobra (Naja)

Not evaluated species (NE)

These are those species that are categorised by the IUCN list of threatened species but not yet assessed. These species include Alaskan huskies (Canis lupus) and many more breeds of dogs and cats.


                               Fig: Alaskan husky (Canis lupus)

Advantages of the Red Data Book

Some advantages of Red Data Book data are listed below:

  • The information given in the Red Data Book assists in categorising the animals, birds and other species according to their conservation status.
  • It is used to examine the population size of a particular species.
  • The data given in the book is used to examine the taxa at the global level.
  • Through the given data, one can predict the risk of extinction.
  • The information provides the structural framework or guidelines that have to be implemented to protect the endangered species.

Disadvantages of the Red Data Book

Some limitations of the red data book are listed below:

  • The information available in the book is incomplete.
  • Some extinct and alive species are not updated in the book.
  • The source of the information has been speculated.
  • There is a lack of documentation of the data source.
  • The book does not have any information about the microbes.

Red Data Book of India

The conservation status of animals and plants that are unique to the Indian subcontinent is listed in the Red Data Book of India. The source of the data is surveys that are conducted by the various organisations of India, such as the Zoological survey of India and Botanical survey of India. The surveys occur under the guidance of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. According to the red data list of India, the critically endangered mammals are the Kondana rat (Millardia kondana), Malabar civet (Viverra civettina), Kashmir stag (Cervus elaphus hanglu) and River dolphins (Platanista gangetica). The critically endangered arthropods include Rameshwaram parachute spider (Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica).

Practice Problems

1. Which organisation published a Red Data Book in India?

a. IUCN
b. Zoological survey of India
c. Botanical survey of India
d. All of the above

Solution: The Red Data Book is published and maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to raise awareness of endangered species. IUCN is considered as the world’s comprehensive inventory centre of global conservation. Hence, the correct option is a.

2. The first Red Data Book was published in which year?

a. 1964
b. 1979
c. 1961
d. 1980

Solution: The Red Data Book originated in Russia and earlier it was known as the Red data book of the Russian federation. The book was created based on the research conducted by biologists between 1961 to 1964 in Russia and published in 1979. Hence, the correct option is b.

3. Determine the full form of WWF.

a. World wide forest
b. World wide fund for nature
c. World web forest
d. None of the above

Solution: WWF is the World Wide Fund for Nature, an international organisation dedicated for the conservation of the environment. It helps the local communities to conserve the natural resources they depend upon. It helps to transform markets and policies towards sustainability also. It also helps to restore and protect species and their habitats. Hence, the correct option is b.

4. What are the several categories of species in the Red Data Book?

Answer: The Red Data Book categorise species in the following nine types:

  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct in the wild (EW)
  • Critically endangered (CE)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Data Deficient (DD)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)

5. Name some critically endangered species in India as per the Red Data Book?

Answer: According to the Red Data List of India, the critically endangered mammals are the Kondana rat (Millardia kondana), Malabar civet (Viverra civettina), Kashmir stag (Cervus elaphus hanglu) and River dolphins (Platanista gangetica). The critically endangered arthropods include Rameshwaram parachute spider (Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica).

6. Why is the Red Data Book important?

Answer: The Red Data Book is a catalogue that provides information about all the endangered species of plants and animals. It also provides information about the population status of several species i.e. the degree of threat to the species. The complete list of threatened species can be found in the Red Data Book. The major goal of this documentation is to give comprehensive information for species research and analysis.

FAQs

1. Who publishes the Red Data Book?
Answer:
The Red Data Book is published and maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to raise awareness of endangered species. IUCN is considered as the world’s comprehensive inventory centre of global conservation.

2. How can a Red List be differentiated from the Red Data Book?
Answer:
The Red List only contains the names of the endangered species, whereas the Red Data Book contains all the information about the species that are on the verge of extinction.

3. How many types of pages are there in the Red Data Book?
Answer:
The Red data book contains normally three coloured pages. It includes red, pink and green. The colour red represents the danger that some of the species of both plants and animals presently experiencing throughout the world. The pink colour pages in the Red Data Book represent the critically endangered species. Green colour pages represent species that were formerly endangered, but now recovered to a point where they are no longer threatened.

4. What is called a Blue Data Book?
Answer:
Blue Data Book includes additional information on the ecology, promotion and conservation of the species.

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