In conservation biology, latent extinction risk is a measure of the potential for a species to become threatened.
Latent risk can most easily be described as the difference, or discrepancy, between the current observed extinction risk of a species (typically as quantified by the IUCN Red List) and the theoretical extinction risk of a species predicted by its biological or life history characteristics.
Because latent risk is the discrepancy between current and predicted risks, estimates of both of these values are required (See population modeling and population dynamics). Once these values are known, the latent extinction risk can be calculated as Predicted Risk - Current Risk = Latent Extinction Risk.
When the latent extinction risk is a positive value, it indicates that a species is currently less threatened than its biology would suggest it ought to be. For example, a species may have several of the characteristics often found in threatened species, such as large body size, small geographic distribution, or low reproductive rate, but still be rated as "least concern" in the IUCN Red List. This may be because it has not yet been exposed to serious threatening processes such as habitat degradation.
Conversely, negative values of latent risk indicate that a species is already more threatened than its biology would indicate, probably because it inhabits a part of the world where it has been exposed to extreme endangering processes. Species with severely low negative values are usually listed as an endangered species and have associated recovery and conservation plans.
One of the issues associated with latent extinction risk is its difficulty to calculate because of the limited availability of data for predicting extinction risk across large numbers of species. Hence, the only study of latent risk to datehas focused on mammals, which are one of the best-studied groups of organisms.
A study of latent extinction risk in mammals identified a number of "hotspots" where the average value of latent risk for mammal species was unusually high.This study suggested that these areas represented an opportunity for proactive conservation efforts, because these could become the "future battlegrounds of mammal conservation" if levels of human impact increase. Unexpectedly, the hotspots of mammal latent risk include large areas of Arctic America, where overall mammal diversity is not high, but where many species have the kind of biological traits (such as large body size and slow reproductive rate) that could render them extinction-prone. Another notable region of high latent risk for mammals is the island chain of Indonesia and Melanesia, where there are large numbers of restricted-range endemic species.
Because it is much more cost-effective to prevent species declines before they happen than to attempt to rescue species from the brink of extinction, latent risk hotspots could form part of a global scheme to prioritize areas for conservation effort, together with other kinds of priority areas such as biodiversity hotspots.
The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch as a result of human activity. The included extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background extinction rates.
Biodiversity is the biological variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator, which is the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richer in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than ten percent of earth's surface, and contain about ninety percent of the world's species. Marine biodiversity is usually higher along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time, but will be likely to slow in the future as a primary result of deforestation. It encompasses the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life.
Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point. Because a species' potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where a species presumed extinct abruptly "reappears" after a period of apparent absence.
Small populations can behave differently from larger populations. They are often the result of population bottlenecks from larger populations, leading to loss of heterozygosity and reduced genetic diversity and loss or fixation of alleles and shifts in allele frequencies. A small population is then more susceptible to demographic and genetic stochastic events, which can impact the long-term survival of the population. Therefore, small populations are often considered at risk of endangerment or extinction, and are often of conservation concern.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1964, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.
Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.
Habitat conservation is a management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore habitats and prevent species extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology.
Population viability analysis (PVA) is a species-specific method of risk assessment frequently used in conservation biology. It is traditionally defined as the process that determines the probability that a population will go extinct within a given number of years. More recently, PVA has been described as a marriage of ecology and statistics that brings together species characteristics and environmental variability to forecast population health and extinction risk. Each PVA is individually developed for a target population or species, and consequently, each PVA is unique. The larger goal in mind when conducting a PVA is to ensure that the population of a species is self-sustaining over the long term.
Endemism is the state of a species being native to a single defined geographic location, such as an island, state, nation, country or other defined zone; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, the Cape sugarbird is found exclusively in southwestern South Africa and is therefore said to be endemic to that particular part of the world.
The long-tailed mouse is a native Australian mammal in the Order Rodentia and the Family Muridae. It is found only on the island of Tasmania. The long-tailed mouse is an omnivore that feeds on insects and a range of plants. It is found in forested areas, particularly in sub-alpine scree, and may live in burrows.
The Tropical Andes is northern of the three climate-delineated parts of the Andes, the others being the Dry Andes and the Wet Andes. The Tropical Andes' area spans 1,542,644 km2 (595,618 sq mi).
The extinction risk of climate change is the risk of species becoming extinct due to the effects of climate change. This may be contributing to Earth's sixth major extinction, also called the Anthropocene or Holocene extinction. While the past extinctions have been due to primarily volcanic eruptions and meteorites, this sixth major extinction is attributed to human behaviors. Climate change is occurring at an alarming rate: Studies done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that it is estimated that the temperature will rise from about 1.4 to 5.5 degrees Celsius within the next century. These rising rates, to a certain degree, may benefit some regions while harming others. However, after about 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit of rising temperature, it will get into harmful climate change. Efforts have been made such as the Paris Climate Agreement, in attempt to stop or reduce the effects of a rising temperature, or at least decrease the number in which the temperature rises. However, even if this goal is accomplished, 19% of species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species are already being impacted by climate change.
The Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, is an act of the Parliament of Tasmania that provides the statute relating to conservation of flora and fauna. Its long title is An Act to provide for the protection and management of threatened native flora and fauna and to enable and promote the conservation of native flora and fauna. It received the royal assent on 14 November 1995.
Extinction threshold is a term used in conservation biology to explain the point at which a species, population or metapopulation, experiences an abrupt change in density or number because of an important parameter, such as habitat loss. It is at this critical value below which a species, population, or metapopulation, will go extinct, though this may take a long time for species just below the critical value, a phenomenon known as extinction debt.
Defaunation is the global, local or functional extinction of animal populations or species from ecological communities. The growth of the human population, combined with advances in harvesting technologies, has led to more intense and efficient exploitation of the environment. This has resulted in the depletion of large vertebrates from ecological communities, creating what has been termed "empty forest". Defaunation differs from extinction; it includes both the disappearance of species and declines in abundance. Defaunation effects were first implied at the Symposium of Plant-Animal Interactions at the University of Campinas, Brazil in 1988 in the context of Neotropical forests. Since then, the term has gained broader usage in conservation biology as a global phenomenon.
A supertree is a single phylogenetic tree assembled from a combination of smaller phylogenetic trees, which may have been assembled using different datasets or a different selection of taxa. Supertree algorithms can highlight areas where additional data would most usefully resolve any ambiguities. The input trees of a supertree should behave as samples from the larger tree.
Conservation is the maintenance of biological diversity. Conservation can focus on preserving diversity at genetic, species, community or whole ecosystem levels. This article will examine conservation at the species level, because mutualisms involve interactions between species. The ultimate goal of conservation at this level is to prevent the extinction of species. However, species conservation has the broader aim of maintaining the abundance and distribution of all species, not only those threatened with extinction. Determining the value of conserving particular species can be done through the use of evolutionary significant units, which essentially attempt to prioritise the conservation of the species which are rarest, fastest declining, and most distinct genotypically and phenotypically.
In ecology, extinction debt is the future extinction of species due to events in the past. The phrases dead clade walking and survival without recovery express the same idea.
Climate change has a significant direct effect on terrestrial animals, by being a major driver of the processes of speciation and extinction. The best known example of this is the Carboniferous rainforest collapse, which occurred 305 million years ago. This event decimated amphibian populations and spurred on the evolution of reptiles. In general, climate change affects animals and birdlife in various different ways. Birds lay their eggs earlier than usual in the year, plants bloom earlier and mammals come out of their hibernation state earlier.
Katherine Elizabeth Jones is a British biodiversity scientist, with a special interest in bats. She is Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity, and Director of the Biodiversity Modelling Research Group, at University College London. She is a past chair of the Bat Conservation Trust.