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.
This year the European Congress on Conservation Biology was held in Glasgow, Scotland (28 August – 1 September). GMA lab members participated with enthusiasm, 9 people from the lab were present, all of them co-authoring one or more contributions.
A summary of all GMA lab contributions includes:
Additional conference outcomes also include:
Overall ECCB 2012 was a great occasion for us to present part of our recent work to the international conservation community; it gave us the opportunity to meet some of our collaborators and to expand our collaboration network, as well as to meet a lot of friends.
Piero Visconti presenting at ECCB 2012 Glasgow.
Our recent paper on global mammal extinction risk reduction has just been published!
Di Marco, M., M. Cardillo, H.P. Possingham, K.A. Wilson, S.P. Blomberg, L. Boitani and C. Rondinini, 2012. A Novel Approach for Global Mammal Extinction Risk Reduction. Conservation Letters, 5(2): 134-141. download it!
Abstract. With one-fourth of the world’s mammals threatened with extinction and limited budget to save them, adopting an efficient conservation strategy is crucial. Previous approaches to setting global conservation priorities have assumed all species to have equal conservation value, or have focused on species with high extinction risk, species that may be hard to save. Here, we identify priority species for optimizing the reduction in overall extinction risk of the world’s threatened terrestrial mammals. We take a novel approach and focus on species having the greatest recovery opportunity using a new conservation benefit metric: the Extinction risk Reduction Opportunity (ERO). We discover that 65–87% of all threatened and potentially recoverable species are overlooked by existing prioritization approaches. We use the ERO metric to prioritize threatened species, but the potential applications are broader; ERO has the potential to integrate with every strategy that aims to maximize the likelihood of conservation success.
Priority areas for global mammal extinction risk reduction, with a few example species.
Press coverage for this article includes the following sources:
Oggiscienza Interview, May 2012 [In Italian]
BBC Wildlife Magazine, May 2012 (p. 39) [Printed]
Decision Point, Apr. 2012 (p. 3)
Conservation Magazine, March 2012