A new database to support conservation — ScienceDaily


Scientists have created a new tool to fill major gaps in our understanding of where and how human activities threaten wildlife around the world.

Conservation experts have revealed large gaps in the available evidence among different locations, threats and taxonomic groups. This study found that 75% of threat maps were produced at a national scale or smaller. This means that a large volume of evidence has potentially been overlooked when basing our understanding of global threats on globally produced maps.

To solve this problem, they created a searchable database that allows anyone to easily access the studies found. The database presents a valuable tool for planning conservation actions at any spatial scale and preventing species extinctions on a global scale. This represents a large volume of literature that captures a wide variety of threats such as medicinal plant collection, hunting, pollution and invasive alien species, which are particularly difficult to account for in global data sets. The database allows local and national decision-makers to quickly and easily access the evidence that matters to them.

Published in the journal Environmental proof, the study was led by Francesca Ridley, a PhD student at the University of Newcastle. It involved a rigorous search and review of more than 14,000 papers, looking for maps showing where threatening human activities are coming into contact with wild species of animals and plants around the world.

Lead author Francesca Ridley, from Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said: “The findings have important implications for how conservation actions are planned to reduce the rate of extinction of species.

“With the second part of the UN COP15 on biodiversity and the finalization of the post-2020 biodiversity framework looming, there is an urgent need to consolidate what we understand about where and how human activities threaten species of In this pursuit, this research is an important step forward.

“Previous attempts to observe the global distribution of threats to species have relied on globally available data that do not account for knowledge gained from local-scale studies and do not represent all of the human activities that can threaten species across land, freshwater, and marine realms.This study reinforces the need to use findings from smaller-scale studies to inform our broader understanding of where species are directly threatened.

This study also observed sampling bias. For example, animal studies were three times more numerous and more taxonomically specific than plant studies. There were also twice as many studies in the terrestrial domain than in the two aquatic domains (freshwater and marine) combined. Such sampling biases can distort our understanding of actions and areas to focus on.

Francesca added: “Further critical appraisal and extraction of threat magnitude for each study is needed to translate evidence into threat reduction activities. Replicate analyzes for languages ​​other than English and make additional efforts to identify gray literature could also fill gaps in the mapping of threats found.Therefore, the systematic map and corresponding article database present a valuable starting point for evidence-based decision making for threat reduction. local and national threats.

Main conclusions:

  • 75% of studies were conducted nationally or less
  • Studies mapping threats to animals were three times more numerous and more taxonomically specific than studies on plants.
  • There were twice as many studies on the terrestrial domain as on the two aquatic domains combined.
  • 15% of all threat mapping studies found were conducted in the United States.
  • Invasive alien species and roads and railways were the most frequently mapped threats and were relatively well mapped across the globe.
  • Otherwise, even well-mapped global threats such as agriculture and aquaculture, residential and commercial development, and use of biological resources, showed large differences in the abundance of studies between geographic regions.

Source of the story:

Materials provided by Newcastle University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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