Nature protection and biodiversity - State & Impacts

What are the state and impacts?

Austria has an impressive species diversity: there are around 45,000 animal species (Zulka 2005) and 2,950 ferns and flowering plants. Of these, 581 animal species and 167 plant species are found only in Austria (Rabitsch & Essl 2009). Many species are at risk, however. Their often close connection with particular biotope types is the key to explaining the extent and causes of the threat.  

Table 1: Red List plants: number of species by threat category (Niklfeld & Schratt-Ehrendorfer 1999)

Plant groups (selected) Total number of species in Austria Number of species by threat category   Number and percentage of extinct and threatened species
    Extinct  (Cat. 0) Critical (Cat. 1) Endangered and vulnerable (Cat. 2 and 3) Early warning list (Cat. 4)  
Ferns and flowering plants 2,950 36 172 813 166 1,187 (40 %)
Mosses, liverworts and hornworts 1,018 40 34 204 154 432 (42 %)
Lichens 2,100 95 57 386 735 1,273 (61 %)

Updated Red Lists of Austria's endangered animals are available for 19 groups of animals (see Table 2).

Table 2: Red List animals: Classification of Austria’s animal species by threat category (Zulka 2005, 2007, 2009).

Animal groups (selected) Total number of species in Austria Number of species by threat category Number and percentage of extinct and threatened species
    Extinct  (Cat. RE – Regionally Extinct und EX – Extinct) Critically endangered (Cat. CR) Endangered and vulnerable (Cat. EN and VU) Early warning list (Cat. NT - Near Threatened)  
Mammals 101 4 4 23 14 45 (45 %)
Birds  242 21 33 33 52 139 (57 %)
Reptiles  14 0 3 6 5 14 (100 %)
Amphibians  20 0 1 11 8 20 (100 %)
Fish  84 7 6 33 9 55 (65 %)
Grasshoppers  126 5 10 38 19 72 (57 %)
Cicadas  626 2 88 144 64 298 (48 %)
Minute moss beetles  54 2 7   12 7   28 (52 %)
Riffle beetles  21 1 3 2 2 8 (38 %)
Butterflies  215 5 12 46 48 111 (52 %)
Moths (various families) 800 35 65 133 93 326 (41 %)
Caddis flies  308 1 9 146 32 188 (61 %)
Lacewing flies  121 1 10 19 21 51 (42 %)
Scorpion flies  10 2 1   1 0   4 (40 %)
Crayfish  7 0 2 2 0 4 (57 %)
Scorpions  3 0 1 2 0 3 (100 %)
Harvestmen 62 0 6 29 7 42 (68 %)
Snails  455 11 67 91 54 223 (49 %)
Molluscs  35 0 4 9 4 17 (49 %)

Table 3: Red List biotope types: Classification of Austria’s biotope types by threat category, broken down by main groups (Essl & Egger 2010).

Main groups Total number in Austria (incl. biotope types which are not at risk or were not assessed) Number of biotypes by threat category Number and percentage of destroyed and endangered biotope types
    Completely destroyed (Cat. 0) At immediate risk (Cat. 1) Heavily endangered and endangered (Cat 2 and 3) Presumed endangered and early warning stage (Cat. P and E)  
Water system  92  3  15 52  0 70 (76 %)
Moors, marshes and spring vegetation 24 0 3 17 0 20 (83 %)
Grassland 61 0 4 51 0 55 (90 %)
Alpine meadows, cushion vegetation, meadow fragments and snow beds 15 0 0 1 2 3 (20 %)
Arable land and ruderal sites 26 0 2 17 0 19 (73 %)
Tall forb communities 18 0 0 6 0 6 (33 %)
Dwarf scrub heaths 12 0 0 3 0 3 (25 %)
Open scrubland, brushwood 48 0 3 24 0 27 (56 %)
Woods, forests, pre-forests 93 0 5 48 0 53 (57 %)
Geomorpho-logical biotope types  45  2  1  19  4 26 (58 %)
Settlement biotope types  54  0  0  8  0 8 (15 %)
Figure 1: Conservation status of species and habitats in the Alpine (ALP) and Continental (CON) biogeographical regions of Austria.
Figure 2: Population trend of selected bird species in Austria, 1998 - 2008 (Fiala 2009b)