Biological determinants of extinction risk: why are smaller species less vulnerable?

Cardillo, M (2003) Biological determinants of extinction risk: why are smaller species less vulnerable?. Animal Conservation, 6 63-69. doi:10.1017/S1367943003003093

Author Cardillo, M
Title Biological determinants of extinction risk: why are smaller species less vulnerable?
Journal name Animal Conservation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1367-9430
Publication date 2003-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S1367943003003093
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 6
Start page 63
End page 69
Total pages 7
Place of publication New York, USA
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Language eng
Subject C1
270708 Conservation and Biodiversity
779903 Living resources (flora and fauna)
Abstract It is becoming increasingly clear that species of smaller body size tend to be less vulnerable to contemporary extinction threats than larger species, but few studies have examined the mechanisms underlying this pattern. In this paper, data for the Australian terrestrial mammal fauna are used to ask whether higher reproductive output or smaller home ranges can explain the reduced extinction risk of smaller species. Extinct and endangered species do indeed have smaller litters and larger home ranges for their body size than expected under a null model. In multiple regressions, however, only litter size is a significant predictor of extinction risk once body size and phylogeny are controlled for. Larger litters contribute to fast population growth, and are probably part of the reason that smaller species are less extinction-prone. The effect of litter size varies between the mesic coastal regions and the and interior of Australia, indicating that the environment a species inhabits mediates the effect of biology on extinction risk. These results suggest that predicting extinction risk from biological traits is likely to be a complex task which must consider explicitly interactions between biology and environment.
Keyword Biodiversity Conservation
Microcomplement Fixation
Ecological Basis
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2004 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 94 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 100 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 05:05:44 EST