Events Lab

Upcoming seminar at the Zoological Society of London

On 10th December 2012, Moreno Di Marco will present some of the GMA current projects during a seminar at ZSL.

Mammal species decline: past trend, current challenge, and possible conservation strategies

One quarter of all mammal species are today threatened with extinction, with both recent trends and future predictions pointing toward an imminent increase of that proportion. We investigate mechanisms and processes behind this decline and describe: (i) past trends in species extinction risk, (ii) cost-efficient conservation priorities and (iii) methodological challenges in measuring human impact on species.
(i) Unlike birds or amphibians, little is known about the global extinction risk status of mammals before 1996. By collecting past information on the status of carnivores and ungulates, we calculated past trends in extinction risk for those species, and show spatial and temporal patterns in global species decline from the ’70s up to date. (ii) Current approaches at setting global conservation priorities generally focus on species with high extinction risk, species that may be hard to save. We took a different approach and detected terrestrial mammals that are currently threatened with extinction, but highly likely to recover (due to their biological traits). We show that many of them are excluded from existing conservation initiatives, while reducing human impact on those species represents a cost-effective conservation strategy. (iii) Threat quantification varies with methodology and the effect of this variability remains largely unexplored. We show how different methods, to quantify the human impact on mammals, result in values that differ largely among each other. This may lead to potentially mismatching interpretations for conservationists, and we discuss practical guidelines for application.
An understanding of the biological and anthropogenic factors affecting global mammal decline and a consideration of the existing methodological challenges, will help conservation strategies to invert the current trend in global mammal decline.