One fifth of animal and plant species are under the threat of extinction, a global conservation study has warned. Evolution Lost, the most comprehensive stocktake of the world’s vertebrates reveals that populations of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species have declined on average by 30 per cent over 40 years, and one fifth of all vertebrates species are threatened with extinction.

Evolution Lost, produced by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), uses the latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species data and the WWF Living Planet Index population data to give us a complete picture of the state of the world’s vertebrates.

The report provides for the first time information on population trends for all vertebrate groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) and information on the threatened status of reptiles and fish. With this new data it is possible to estimate the conservation status of all vertebrates.

Over the past four decades terrestrial mammal populations are estimated to have declined by a quarter, marine fish by a fifth and freshwater fish by as much as 65%. Evolution Lost also highlights entire lineages such as marine turtles, pandas, rhinos and Darwin’s frogs, that are on the brink of being lost. The report concludes with a call for increased conservation capacity that takes an ecosystem level approach, and for serious discussions about overconsumption, population growth and poor governance

Evolution Lost can be viewed as an online book here