The conservation status of the world's freshwater molluscs

With the biodiversity crisis continuing unchecked, we need to establish levels and drivers of extinction risk, and reassessments over time, to effectively allocate conservation resources and track progress towards global conservation targets. Given that threat appears particularly high in freshwaters, we assessed the extinction risk of 1428 randomly selected freshwater molluscs using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, as part of the Sampled Red List Index project. We show that close to one-third of species in our sample are estimated to be threatened with extinction, with highest levels of threat in the Nearctic, Palearctic and Australasia and among gastropods. Threat levels were higher in lotic than lentic systems. Pollution (chemical and physical) and the modification of natural systems (e.g. through damming and water abstraction) were the most frequently reported threats to freshwater molluscs, with some regional variation. Given that we found little spatial congruence between species richness patterns of freshwater molluscs and other freshwater taxa, apart from crayfish, new additional conservation priority areas emerged from our study. We discuss the implications of our findings for freshwater mollusc conservation, the adequacy of a sampled approach and important next steps to estimate trends in freshwater mollusc extinction risk over time.