Rare and common vertebrates span a wide spectrum of population trends.
ABSTRACT: The Earth's biota is changing over time in complex ways. A critical challenge is to test whether specific biomes, taxa or types of species benefit or suffer in a time of accelerating global change. We analysed nearly 10,000 abundance time series from over 2000 vertebrate species part of the Living Planet Database. We integrated abundance data with information on geographic range, habitat preference, taxonomic and phylogenetic relationships, and IUCN Red List Categories and threats. We find that 15% of populations declined, 18% increased, and 67% showed no net changes over time. Against a backdrop of no biogeographic and phylogenetic patterning in population change, we uncover a distinct taxonomic signal. Amphibians were the only taxa that experienced net declines in the analysed data, while birds, mammals and reptiles experienced net increases. Population trends were poorly captured by species' rarity and global-scale threats. Incorporation of the full spectrum of population change will improve conservation efforts to protect global biodiversity.
Project description:We compile a Mexican insular herpetofaunal checklist to estimate endemism, conservation status, island threats, net taxonomic turnover among six biogeographic provinces belonging to the Nearctic and Neotropical regions, and the relationships between island area and mainland distance versus species richness. We compile a checklist of insular herpetofaunal through performing a literature and collection review. We define the conservation status according to conservation Mexican law, the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Environmental Vulnerability Scores. We determine threat percentages on islands according to the 11 major classes of threats to biodiversity. We estimate the net taxonomic turnover with beta diversity analysis between the Nearctic and Neotropical provinces. The Mexican insular herpetofauna is composed of 18 amphibian species, 204 species with 101 subspecies of reptiles, and 263 taxa in total. Endemism levels are 11.76% in amphibians, 53.57% in reptiles, and 27.91% being insular endemic taxa. Two conservation status systems classify the species at high extinction risk, while the remaining system suggests less concern. However, all systems indicate species lacking assessment. Human activities and exotic alien species are present on 60% of 131 islands. The taxonomic turnover value is high (0.89), with a clear herpetofaunal differentiation between the two biogeographic regions. The species-area and species-mainland distance relationships are positive. Insular herpetofauna faces a high percentage of threats, with the Neotropical provinces more heavily impacted. It is urgent to explore the remaining islands (3,079 islands) and better incorporate insular populations and species in ecological, evolutionary, and systematic studies. In the face of the biodiversity crisis, islands will play a leading role as a model to apply restoration and conservation strategies.
Project description:Recent increases in human disturbance pose significant threats to migratory species using collective movement strategies. Key threats to migrants may differ depending on behavioural traits (e.g. collective navigation), taxonomy and the environmental system (i.e. freshwater, marine or terrestrial) associated with migration. We quantitatively assess how collective navigation, taxonomic membership and environmental system impact species' vulnerability by (i) evaluating population change in migratory and non-migratory bird, mammal and fish species using the Living Planet Database (LPD), (ii) analysing the role of collective navigation and environmental system on migrant extinction risk using International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifications and (iii) compiling literature on geographical range change of migratory species. Likelihood of population decrease differed by taxonomic group: migratory birds were more likely to experience annual declines than non-migrants, while mammals displayed the opposite pattern. Within migratory species in IUCN, we observed that collective navigation and environmental system were important predictors of extinction risk for fishes and birds, but not for mammals, which had overall higher extinction risk than other taxa. We found high phylogenetic relatedness among collectively navigating species, which could have obscured its importance in determining extinction risk. Overall, outputs from these analyses can help guide strategic interventions to conserve the most vulnerable migrations.This article is part of the theme issue 'Collective movement ecology'.
Project description:The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is a comprehensive database of over 120,000 species and is a powerful tool to evaluate the threat of invasive species to global biodiversity. Several problematic species have gained global recognition due to comprehensive threat assessments quantifying the threat these species pose to biodiversity using large datasets like the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, the global threat of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) to biodiversity is still poorly understood despite well-documented ecosystem level impacts. In this study, we utilized the IUCN Red List to quantify the impacts of this globally distributed species throughout its native and non-native range. Here we show that wild pigs threaten 672 taxa in 54 different countries across the globe. Most of these taxa are listed as critically endangered or endangered and 14 species have been driven to extinction as a direct result of impacts from wild pigs. Our results show that threats from wild pigs are pervasive across taxonomic groups and that island endemics and taxa throughout the non-native range of wild pigs are particularly vulnerable.
Project description:Land-use change and intensification threaten bee populations worldwide, imperilling pollination services. Global models are needed to better characterise, project, and mitigate bees' responses to these human impacts. The available data are, however, geographically and taxonomically unrepresentative; most data are from North America and Western Europe, overrepresenting bumblebees and raising concerns that model results may not be generalizable to other regions and taxa. To assess whether the geographic and taxonomic biases of data could undermine effectiveness of models for conservation policy, we have collated from the published literature a global dataset of bee diversity at sites facing land-use change and intensification, and assess whether bee responses to these pressures vary across 11 regions (Western, Northern, Eastern and Southern Europe; North, Central and South America; Australia and New Zealand; South East Asia; Middle and Southern Africa) and between bumblebees and other bees. Our analyses highlight strong regionally-based responses of total abundance, species richness and Simpson's diversity to land use, caused by variation in the sensitivity of species and potentially in the nature of threats. These results suggest that global extrapolation of models based on geographically and taxonomically restricted data may underestimate the true uncertainty, increasing the risk of ecological surprises.
Project description:Australia is in the midst of an extinction crisis, having already lost 10% of terrestrial mammal fauna since European settlement and with hundreds of other species at high risk of extinction. The decline of the nation's biota is a result of an array of threatening processes; however, a comprehensive taxon-specific understanding of threats and their relative impacts remains undocumented nationally. Using expert consultation, we compile the first complete, validated, and consistent taxon-specific threat and impact dataset for all nationally listed threatened taxa in Australia. We confined our analysis to 1,795 terrestrial and aquatic taxa listed as threatened (Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered) under Australian Commonwealth law. We engaged taxonomic experts to generate taxon-specific threat and threat impact information to consistently apply the IUCN Threat Classification Scheme and Threat Impact Scoring System, as well as eight broad-level threats and 51 subcategory threats, for all 1,795 threatened terrestrial and aquatic threatened taxa. This compilation produced 4,877 unique taxon-threat-impact combinations with the most frequently listed threats being <i>Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation</i> (<i>n</i> = 1,210 taxa), and <i>Invasive species and disease</i> (<i>n</i> = 966 taxa). Yet when only high-impact threats or medium-impact threats are considered, <i>Invasive species and disease</i> become the most prevalent threats. This dataset provides critical information for conservation action planning, national legislation and policy, and prioritizing investments in threatened species management and recovery.
Project description:Marine biodiversity of the United States (U.S.) is extensively documented, but data assembled by the United States National Committee for the Census of Marine Life demonstrate that even the most complete taxonomic inventories are based on records scattered in space and time. The best-known taxa are those of commercial importance. Body size is directly correlated with knowledge of a species, and knowledge also diminishes with distance from shore and depth. Measures of biodiversity other than species diversity, such as ecosystem and genetic diversity, are poorly documented. Threats to marine biodiversity in the U.S. are the same as those for most of the world: overexploitation of living resources; reduced water quality; coastal development; shipping; invasive species; rising temperature and concentrations of carbon dioxide in the surface ocean, and other changes that may be consequences of global change, including shifting currents; increased number and size of hypoxic or anoxic areas; and increased number and duration of harmful algal blooms. More information must be obtained through field and laboratory research and monitoring that involve innovative sampling techniques (such as genetics and acoustics), but data that already exist must be made accessible. And all data must have a temporal component so trends can be identified. As data are compiled, techniques must be developed to make certain that scales are compatible, to combine and reconcile data collected for various purposes with disparate gear, and to automate taxonomic changes. Information on biotic and abiotic elements of the environment must be interactively linked. Impediments to assembling existing data and collecting new data on marine biodiversity include logistical problems as well as shortages in finances and taxonomic expertise.
Project description:The historic richness of most taxonomic groups increases substantially over geological time. Explanations for this fall broadly into two categories: bias in the fossil record and elevated net rates of diversification in recent periods. For example, the break up of Pangaea and isolation between continents might have increased net diversification rates. In this study, we investigate the effect on terrestrial diversification rates of the increased isolation between land masses brought about by continental drift. We use ecological neutral theory as a means to study geologically complex scenarios tractably. Our models show the effects of simulated geological events that affect all species equally, without the added complexity of further ecological processes. We find that continental drift leads to an increase in diversity only where isolation between continents leads to additional speciation through vicariance, and where higher taxa with very low global diversity are considered. We conclude that continental drift by itself is not sufficient to account for the increase in terrestrial species richness observed in the fossil record.
Project description:Biological invasions as drivers of biodiversity loss have recently been challenged. Fundamentally, we must know where species that are threatened by invasive alien species (IAS) live, and the degree to which they are threatened. We report the first study linking 1372 vertebrates threatened by more than 200 IAS from the completely revised Global Invasive Species Database. New maps of the vulnerability of threatened vertebrates to IAS permit assessments of whether IAS have a major influence on biodiversity, and if so, which taxonomic groups are threatened and where they are threatened. We found that centres of IAS-threatened vertebrates are concentrated in the Americas, India, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. The areas in which IAS-threatened species are located do not fully match the current hotspots of invasions, or the current hotspots of threatened species. The relative importance of biological invasions as drivers of biodiversity loss clearly varies across regions and taxa, and changes over time, with mammals from India, Indonesia, Australia and Europe are increasingly being threatened by IAS. The chytrid fungus primarily threatens amphibians, whereas invasive mammals primarily threaten other vertebrates. The differences in IAS threats between regions and taxa can help efficiently target IAS, which is essential for achieving the Strategic Plan 2020 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Project description:Climate change probably has severe impacts on animal populations, but demonstrating a causal link can be difficult because of potential influences by additional factors. Assessing global impacts of climate change effects may also be hampered by narrow taxonomic and geographical research foci. We review studies on the effects of climate change on populations of amphibians and reptiles to assess climate change effects and potential biases associated with the body of work that has been conducted within the last decade. We use data from 104 studies regarding the effect of climate on 313 species, from 464 species-study combinations. Climate change effects were reported in 65% of studies. Climate change was identified as causing population declines or range restrictions in half of the cases. The probability of identifying an effect of climate change varied among regions, taxa and research methods. Climatic effects were equally prevalent in studies exclusively investigating climate factors (more than 50% of studies) and in studies including additional factors, thus bolstering confidence in the results of studies exclusively examining effects of climate change. Our analyses reveal biases with respect to geography, taxonomy and research question, making global conclusions impossible. Additional research should focus on under-represented regions, taxa and questions. Conservation and climate policy should consider the documented harm climate change causes reptiles and amphibians.
Project description:Climate change alters species distributions, causing plants and animals to move north or to higher elevations with current warming. Bioclimatic models predict species distributions based on extant realized niches and assume niche conservation. Here, we evaluate if proxies for niches (i.e., range areas) are conserved at the family level through deep time, from the Eocene to the Pleistocene. We analyze the occurrence of all mammalian families in the continental USA, calculating range area, percent range area occupied, range area rank, and range polygon centroids during each epoch. Percent range area occupied significantly increases from the Oligocene to the Miocene and again from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene; however, mammalian families maintain statistical concordance between rank orders across time. Families with greater taxonomic diversity occupy a greater percent of available range area during each epoch and net changes in taxonomic diversity are significantly positively related to changes in percent range area occupied from the Eocene to the Pleistocene. Furthermore, gains and losses in generic and species diversity are remarkably consistent with ~2.3 species gained per generic increase. Centroids demonstrate southeastern shifts from the Eocene through the Pleistocene that may correspond to major environmental events and/or climate changes during the Cenozoic. These results demonstrate range conservation at the family level and support the idea that niche conservation at higher taxonomic levels operates over deep time and may be controlled by life history traits. Furthermore, families containing megafauna and/or terminal Pleistocene extinction victims do not incur significantly greater declines in range area rank than families containing only smaller taxa and/or only survivors, from the Pliocene to Pleistocene. Collectively, these data evince the resilience of families to climate and/or environmental change in deep time, the absence of terminal Pleistocene "extinction prone" families, and provide valuable insights to understanding mammalian responses to current climate change.