An endangered species is a population of an organism which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. An endangered species is usually a taxonomic species, but may be another evolutionary significant unit. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has calculated the percentage of endangered species as 40 percent of all organisms based on the sample of species that have been evaluated through 2006. (Note: the IUCN groups all threatened species for their summary purposes.) Many nations have laws offering protection to conservation reliant species: for example, forbidding hunting, restricting land development or creating preserves. Only a few of the many species at risk of extinction actually make it to the lists and obtain legal protection. Many more species become extinct, or potentially will become extinct, without gaining public notice.
The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that endangered species not living. Many factors are taken into account when assessing the conservation status of a species; not simply the number remaining, but the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates, known threats, and so on. The IUCN Red List is the best known conservation status listing.
For more information (background, pictures, experiments and references): Endangered Species
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