• Data gaps and opportunities for comparative and conservation biology

      Conde, Dalia A.; Staerk, Johanna; Colchero, Fernando; da Silva, Rita; Schöley, Jonas; Baden, H. Maria; Jouvet, Lionel; Fa, John E.; Syed, Hassan; Jongejans, Eelke; et al. (2019)
      Biodiversity loss is a major challenge. Over the past century, the average rate of vertebrate extinction has been about 100-fold higher than the estimated background rate and population declines continue to increase globally. Birth and death rates determine the pace of population increase or decline, thus driving the expansion or extinction of a species. Design of species conservation policies hence depends on demographic data (e.g., for extinction risk assessments or estimation of harvesting quotas). However, an overview of the accessible data, even for better known taxa, is lacking. Here, we present the Demographic Species Knowledge Index, which classifies the available information for 32,144 (97%) of extant described mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. We show that only 1.3% of the tetrapod species have comprehensive information on birth and death rates. We found no demographic measures, not even crude ones such as maximum life span or typical litter/clutch size, for 65% of threatened tetrapods. More field studies are needed; however, some progress can be made by digitalizing existing knowledge, by imputing data from related species with similar life histories, and by using information from captive populations. We show that data from zoos and aquariums in the Species360 network can significantly improve knowledge for an almost eightfold gain. Assessing the landscape of limited demographic knowledge is essential to prioritize ways to fill data gaps. Such information is urgently needed to implement management strategies to conserve at-risk taxa and to discover new unifying concepts and evolutionary relationships across thousands of tetrapod species.
    • Large numbers of vertebrates began rapid population decline in the late 19th century

      Li, Haipeng; Xiang-Yu, Jinggong; Dai, Guangyi; Gu, Zhili; Ming, Chen; Yang, Zongfeng; Ryder, Oliver A.; Li, Wen-Hsiung; Fu, Yun-Xin; Zhang, Ya-Ping (2016)
      ...Here we analyzed the genetic diversity data of nuclear and mitochondrial loci of 2,764 vertebrate species and found that the mean genetic diversity is lower in threatened species than in related nonthreatened species. Our coalescence-based modeling suggests that in many threatened species the RPD began ∼123 y ago (a 95% confidence interval of 20–260 y)....
    • Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of amphibian chytridiomycosis

      Baitchman, Eric J.; Pessier, Allan P. (2013)
      Amphibian chytridiomycosis, caused by the chytridiomycete fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is responsible for a global pandemic that has dramatically reduced global amphibian populations and diversity. Species declines, extirpations, and extinctions attributed to chytridiomycosis have occurred in Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States….
    • The conservation status of the world’s reptiles

      Böhm, Monika; Collen, Ben; Baillie, Jonathan E.M.; Bowles, Philip; Chanson, Janice; Cox, Neil; Hammerson, Geoffrey; Hoffmann, Michael; Livingstone, Suzanne R.; Ram, Mala; et al. (2013)
      …We present the first ever global analysis of extinction risk in reptiles, based on a random representative sample of 1500 species (16% of all currently known species). To our knowledge, our results provide the first analysis of the global conservation status and distribution patterns of reptiles and the threats affecting them, highlighting conservation priorities and knowledge gaps which need to be addressed urgently to ensure the continued survival of the world’s reptiles….
    • The plight of the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni): is there still hope to prevent extinction?

      Ryder, Oliver A.; Hermes, R.; Goeritz, F.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Stejskal, J.; Hrudy, J.; Vahala, L.; Loring, Jeanne F.; Hildebrandt, T.B.; Szentiks, C.A.; et al. (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife ResearchBerlin, 2015)