Incorporating explicit geospatial data shows more species at risk of extinction than the current Red List.

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2016-11-09

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Abstract

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List classifies species according to their risk of extinction, informing global to local conservation decisions. Unfortunately, important geospatial data do not explicitly or efficiently enter this process. Rapid growth in the availability of remotely sensed observations provides fine-scale data on elevation and increasingly sophisticated characterizations of land cover and its changes. These data readily show that species are likely not present within many areas within the overall envelopes of their distributions. Additionally, global databases on protected areas inform how extensively ranges are protected. We selected 586 endemic and threatened forest bird species from six of the world's most biodiverse and threatened places (Atlantic Forest of Brazil, Central America, Western Andes of Colombia, Madagascar, Sumatra, and Southeast Asia). The Red List deems 18% of these species to be threatened (15 critically endangered, 29 endangered, and 64 vulnerable). Inevitably, after refining ranges by elevation and forest cover, ranges shrink. Do they do so consistently? For example, refined ranges of critically endangered species might reduce by (say) 50% but so might the ranges of endangered, vulnerable, and nonthreatened species. Critically, this is not the case. We find that 43% of species fall below the range threshold where comparable species are deemed threatened. Some 210 bird species belong in a higher-threat category than the current Red List placement, including 189 species that are currently deemed nonthreatened. Incorporating readily available spatial data substantially increases the numbers of species that should be considered at risk and alters priority areas for conservation.

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10.1126/sciadv.1601367

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Ocampo-Peñuela, Natalia, Clinton N Jenkins, Varsha Vijay, Binbin V Li and Stuart L Pimm (2016). Incorporating explicit geospatial data shows more species at risk of extinction than the current Red List. Science advances, 2(11). p. e1601367. 10.1126/sciadv.1601367 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23542.

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Scholars@Duke

Li

Binbin Li

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Duke Kunshan University

Dr. Binbin Li is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences of the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. She holds a secondary appointment with Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Her research focuses on loss of biodiversity, endangered and endemic species conservation such as giant pandas, priority setting and management of protected areas, and promotion of innovative technology, markets and policies to solve conservation problems and local community development. Dr. Li got her PhD in Environment from Duke University (2017), M.S in Natural Resources and Environment from University of Michigan (2012). and B.S in Life Sciences with a dual degree in Economics from Peking University (2010).

Dr. Li’s work covers the identification of conservation priorities and national parks in China, impacts of One Belt One Road on biodiversity, giant panda conservation and management via Footprint Identification Technique (FIT), impacts of oil palm and rubber plantations on biodiversity in Southeast Asia, influence of national environmental policies on human-wildlife conflicts, and behavioral study of endemic species. She is also a member of the IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group.

Dr. Li is engaged in science communication and nature education. She is a signed nature photographer at Swild in China. During 2013-2015, she served as a science advisor for Disney nature documentary “Born in China”. She is devoted in using photography, social media, drama, and other art formats to promote conservation science in the public.

Pimm

Stuart L. Pimm

Doris Duke Distinguished Professor of Conservation Ecology in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences

Stuart Pimm is a world leader in the study of present-day extinctions and what can be done to prevent them. His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research. Pimm received his BSc degree from Oxford University in 1971 and his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in 1974. Pimm is the author of over 350 scientific papers and five books. He is one of the most highly cited environmental scientists. Pimm wrote the highly acclaimed assessment of the human impact to the planet: The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth in 2001. His commitment to the interface between science and policy has led to his testimony to both House and Senate Committees on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act. He was worked and taught in Africa for nearly 30 years on elephants, most recently lions — through National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative — but always on topics that relate to the conservation of wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend. Other research areas include the Everglades of Florida and tropical forests in South America, especially the Atlantic Coast forest of Brazil and the northern Andes — two of the world's "hotspots" for threatened species. His international honours include the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2010), the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006), the Society for Conservation Biology’s Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award (2006), and the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology, from the Marsh Christian Trust (awarded by the Zoological Society of London in 2004). Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, awarded him the William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement in 2007. In 2019, he won the International Cosmos Prize, which recognised his founding and directing Saving Nature, www.savingnature.org, a non-profit that uses donations for carbon emissions offsets to fund local conservation groups in areas of exceptional tropical biodiversity to restore their degraded lands. 


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