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Thousands of U.S. plant and animal species are facing extinction, report says

Over a third of U.S. plants and animals are at risk of extinction according to a report by the conservation group NatureServe. According to the research, "40 percent of animals and 34 percent of plants in the United States are at risk of extinction, while 41 percent of ecosystems are facing collapse," writes Reuters.

The data, based on 50 years of data from research of over 1,000 scientists, found that the most at-risk regions are California, Texas, and Southeast U.S. Almost half of all cacti species are at risk along with the Venus flytrap, and crayfish. The reasons cited by the report include "habitat degradation and land conversion, invasive species, damming and polluting of rivers, and climate change." Currently, 1,250 plants in NatureServe's database have been deemed "critically imperiled" meaning they are on the brink of extinction.

"We're almost in triage mode trying to keep our natural systems in place," commented Wesley Knapp, the chief botanist at NatureServe. Scientists are working to determine which species are most critical to be saved. "The public can help by finding and engaging with local organizations that are actively working to protect wild places and conserve rare species," explains Vivian Negron-Ortiz, the president of the Botanical Society of America.

"If we want to maintain the panoply of biodiversity that we currently enjoy, we need to target the places where the biodiversity is most threatened," remarked Sean O'Brien, president of NatureServe. "This report allows us to do that."