Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Carnivore extinction risk determined more by biology than human population density


Carnivores around the world are more at risk of extinction due to their own intrinsic biological attributes than from an increasing human population with whom they share their space, say scientists in a study published this week. Researchers looking at all 280 carnivore species around the world estimated the risk of their extinction by 2030 based on a variety of different threats.

They found that while a high human population density is associated with a high extinction risk, its importance fell as biological traits were accounted for. Four traits in particular were associated with high extinction risk in carnivores: a small geographic distribution, low population density, high trophic level (position on the food chain), and long gestation period.

Furthermore, biology is by far more important in determining risk of extinction when combined with high human population density. "When species face severe external threats, their biology becomes much more crucial," says Dr Marcel Cardillo, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences at Imperial, and first author of the paper.

Writing in the July issue of PLoS Biology, the authors conclude that there is no room for complacency about the security of species simply because they are not currently considered globally threatened.

"There is a strong case to be made for pre-emptive conservation of species — that live in regions of rapid human population growth and have a biology predisposing them to decline," they write. They highlight in particular the threat to African viverrids, or civets and genets, even though they are currently considered relatively safe.

The authors, from Imperial College London, University of Virginia, USA, and the Institute of Zoology, suggest action now would offset greater danger later: "Arguably, maintaining the stability of particularly susceptible species before they become threatened could be more cost-effective in the long term than postdecline attempts to rescue them from the brink of extinction," they conclude.

They suggest pre-emptive action including the establishment of population monitoring programs, or listing species under national species protection laws on the basis of potential future susceptibility.

"We need to keep an eye on species before they start declining to extinction," said Dr Cardillo. "What we think is safe now may soon go through a rapid decline. We shouldn’t be too confident about the species around us now."

"This is a preliminary study, the first to examine a global level of extinction risk at the species level and at the same time consider biology’s intrinsic influence. Now we intend to extend our methods to all 4,500 terrestrial mammals, to see if there are general predictors of extinction risk and that these rules apply between orders of animals."

In the PLoS study, the researchers took all 280 of the well-characterised carnivore species and assessed human impact on each of them using the human population density within their geographical distribution. This was tested together with a range of biological traits, to determine the most important predictors of extinction risk status, within a comparative statistical model.

As a measure of extinction risk status they took each species’ position on the IUCN-World Conservation Union Red List which rates how likely a species is to become extinct, ranked in six categories from ’Least Concern’ to ’Critically Endangered’.

The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science and the National Science Foundation.

Tom Miller | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>