German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Animals, plants and fungi

Comparison of long-term and short-term population trends in animals, plants and fungi in Germany

Many species in Germany on a declining population trend

Populations of about a third of Red List species in Germany have declined in the last 150 years. By comparing long-term and short-term population trends, any changes in trend can be identified, if applicable together with any need to take action with conservation measures.

Out of the 9,698 taxa (species and subspecies) in the Red Lists, the populations of 3,305 taxa (34 percent) have declined in the last 150 years. Examples include the yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata), the sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus) and the Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo). For 1,693 taxa (17 percent), the population decline continues. These include the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera). In 349 taxa (4 percent), population decline only began in recent years. Among these are the wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) and the large saw-tailed bush-cricket (Polysarcus denticauda). Conservation and support measures to secure populations are needed most of all for taxa in ongoing steep decline.

Insufficient data for trend analysis for a third of species

By comparing the long-term population trend (over the past 50 to 150 years) and the short-term population trend (over the past 10 to 25 years), it is possible to identify any changes in trend within the current Red Lists.

The long-term and short-term population trends can be assessed for about two-thirds of evaluated taxa. Assessment of both trends is not possible for the remainder because of insufficient data. The populations of these taxa must be studied more closely in future, as they may include taxa with negative population trends.

Stable or increasing populations reflect successes for nature conservation

A trend change is considered to be a success for nature conservation if despite ongoing long-term decline the population has remained constant or even sharply increased in the short term. This applies to 619 or 19 percent of species and subspecies that are in long-term decline but stable in the short term (such as the greater mouse-eared bat Myotis myotis myotis, Aesculapian snake Zamensis longissimus and salmon Salmo salar); for 111 taxa or 3 percent (such as the wolf Canis lupus, beaver Castor fiber and the osprey Pandion haliaetus) the short-term trend is even positive.