German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

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Animals, plants and fungi

Relative importance of causes of threat for animals living in the wild

Animal species in Germany primarily under threat due to agricultural influences

Knowledge of the causes of population decline is essential in order to take effective conservation and management measures for endangered species. In the largest and only study of its kind in Germany so far, the causes of threat to animal species were analysed on the basis of literature review and nationwide expert survey in 2005. The most significant causes of threat were seen to relate to agriculture.


Causes of threat were analysed in total for 601 Red List species in 10 animal groups (mammals, breeding birds, reptiles, amphibians, ground beetles and tiger beetles, water beetles, butterflies and skippers, orthopterans, large branchiopods, dragonflies and damselflies).

An overview of the results for all animal groups shows that the most significant causes of threat relate to agriculture. This applies in terms of both the number of times cited and the number of species affected. Causes of threat include the draining of wet grassland and small lakes and ponds, fertilisation and liming of grassland, and the use of poisoned bait and traps for crop and stock protection. These are followed in importance by forestry, hydraulic engineering/water transport, construction/resource extraction and sport/leisure activities.

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