Threat to the point: improving the value of comparative extinction risk analysis for conservation action

Murray, Kris A., Verde Arregoitia, Luis D., Davidson, Ana, Di Marco, Moreno and Di Fonzo, Martina M. I. (2013) Threat to the point: improving the value of comparative extinction risk analysis for conservation action. Global Change Biology, 20 2: 483-494. doi:10.1111/gcb.12366

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Author Murray, Kris A.
Verde Arregoitia, Luis D.
Davidson, Ana
Di Marco, Moreno
Di Fonzo, Martina M. I.
Title Threat to the point: improving the value of comparative extinction risk analysis for conservation action
Journal name Global Change Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1354-1013
Publication date 2013-08-22
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/gcb.12366
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 20
Issue 2
Start page 483
End page 494
Total pages 12
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Comparative extinction risk analysis is a common approach for assessing the relative plight of biodiversity and making conservation recommendations. However, the usefulness of such analyses for conservation practice has been questioned. One reason for underperformance may be that threats arising from global environmental changes (e.g., habitat loss, invasive species, climate change) are often overlooked, despite being widely regarded as proximal drivers of species’ endangerment. We explore this problem by 1) reviewing the use of threats in this field, and 2) quantitatively investigating the effects of threat exclusion on the interpretation and potential application of extinction risk model results. We show that threat variables are routinely (59%) identified as significant predictors of extinction risk, yet while most studies (78%) include extrinsic factors of some kind (e.g., geographic or bioclimatic information), the majority (63%) do not include threats. Despite low overall usage, studies are increasingly employing threats to explain patterns of extinction risk. However, most continue to employ methods developed for the analysis of heritable traits (e.g., body size, fecundity), which may be poorly suited to the treatment of non-heritable predictors including threats. In our global mammal and continental amphibian extinction risk case studies, omitting threats reduced model predictive performance, but more importantly 1) reduced mechanistic information relevant to management, 2) resulted in considerable disagreement in species classifications (12% and 5% for amphibians and mammals, respectively, translating to dozens and hundreds of species), and 3) caused even greater disagreement (20-60%) in a downstream conservation application (species ranking). We conclude that the use of threats in comparative extinction risk analysis is important and increasing but currently in the early stages of development. Priorities for future studies include improving uptake, availability, quality and quantification of threat data, and developing analytical methods that yield more robust, relevant and tangible products for conservation applications.
Keyword Threats
Intrinsic traits
Extrinsic traits
IUCN Red-List
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 15 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 14 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 26 Sep 2013, 09:36:39 EST by Martina Di Fonzo on behalf of School of Biological Sciences