“Extinction is the most irreversible and tragic of all environmental calamities.

With each plant and animal species that disappears, a precious part of creation is callously erased”
Michael Soule, 2004

Threats to Biodiversity
chap 3

Threats to Biodiversity
• As our numbers climb, we expand agricultural conversion, import invasive species, hunt more species, degradate habitat, fragment and lose habitat, pollute water and air, impact climate… • In short, we are causing the 6th mass extinction, the only biological driven one

Threats to Biodiversity
• Major factors impacting biodiversity

forestry.Threats to Biodiversity • Habitat Degradation • Includes conversion from suitable to unsuitable.g. development. fragmentation that lower PVA • Causes: many industries (e. chemical) . lowering quality. agriculture. fishing. mining.

fishing (and indirect by-catch).Threats to Biodiversity • Overexploitation • Hunting. trade of animals (and parts) . collecting.

disruption of mutualisms.Threats to Biodiversity • Invasive Species • With our help. modifying habitat. competition or hybridization • Indirect paths: changing abundances. reducing habitat quality) . disease. species have the ability to get virtually anywhere in the world • Direct actions: predation. parasitism.

g. invasive species and other problems.Threats to Biodiversity • Anthropogenic Climate Change • Climate has been a cause of previous mass extinctions • Couple this with lower abundance.3 . malaria in temperate places)…Fig 3. a severe impact is likely from climate change • Climate change will also trigger additional biological responses (e.

Threats to Biodiversity • “Snowballing” effect of the invasion of the alien root pathogen .

Threats to Biodiversity • “Snowballing” effect of the invasion of the alien root pathogen • Indirect effects .

g. mercury.Threats to Biodiversity • Anthropogenic Pollution • There are direct discharges of chemicals into the environment. lead) are found even in remote areas • Also have the problem of bioaccumulation (or biomagnification) . there are also pollutants released into the atmosphere • Toxic chemicals (e.

Threats to Biodiversity • Toxic chemicals (PCB‟s and dioxins) accumulate in fatty tissues .

populations and/or habitat is dramatic and extreme • Extinction as a process… • Can be local or global (also.Anthropogenic Extinctions… impact on communities and ecosystems • Loss of species. ecological) .

Anthropogenic Extinctions… impact on communities and ecosystems • Early extinctions probably caused by overexploitation • Now. habitat degradation and/or invasive species major factors .

Anthropogenic Extinctions… impact on communities and ecosystems • No. of genera (megamammal) extinct and cause • 72% Aust • 88% NAm .

extinction followed .Anthropogenic Extinctions… impact on communities and ecosystems • Consider Polynesian colonization of Pacific Islands 1-3KYA • Over 2000 species of birds (flightless rails) and 8000 populations driven to extinction • Story is not so simple… • Where invasive sp and habitat degradation combined.

Anthropogenic Extinctions… impact on communities and ecosystems .

>129 sp extinct Habitat loss major cause Invasive sp contributed for many Overexploitation for 1/5 .Anthropogenic Extinctions… impact on communities and ecosystems • • • • Since 1500.

g.g. plants with a single sp pollinator or seed dispersers E.• • • • indirect impacts Species don‟t exist in a vacuum and extinctions usually have a ripple effect „Cascade effects‟ such as secondary extinctions may occur E. sea otters and sea urchins Anthropogenic Extinctions… .

Anthropogenic Extinctions… indirect impacts • Tambalacoque & Dodo .

g.Anthropogenic Extinctions… indirect impacts • E. sea otters and sea urchins .

Anthropogenic Extinctions… indirect impacts .

which may cause the „ecological release‟ of mesopredators .Anthropogenic Extinctions… indirect impacts • Another problem is the removal of top predators.

g. elephant) • Keystone sp: sp that has more impact on community than numbers (biomass) would suggest (e.g. beaver. but also have strong effects on other members • Ecosystems engineers: those that modify the ecosystem (e.Anthropogenic Extinctions… indirect impacts • So there are many important species in a given community and some are more important than others • Dominant sp: common. bat pollinator) .

Anthropogenic Extinctions… indirect impacts .

only 2. Endangered.Current Patterns of Global Endangerment • Best data on global endangerment are collated in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (www.redlist.5% of species evaluated (and 41% considered endangered) .org) • All species placed into one of 9 categories (3 primary categories: Critically Endangered. Vulnerable) • To date.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • What groups are in endangered? .

3 .g. large-scale migrations) • Read Essay 3.Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Globally threatened processes • Some dramatic phenomenon may disappear (e.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Factors threatening biodiversity • Factors are listed in the Red List • Knowledge varies tremendously and by taxonomic group and habitat • Most face multiple threats and threats can act synergistically .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Overexploitation is major cause for fish .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Where are sp most at risk worldwide? • Not all biomes (and their inhabitants) are equally at risk • Most tropical habitats and grasslands have large substantial numbers of threatened vertebrates .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment…the US • Geographically. mussels {70%}.g. freshwater species (e. Oceania. and NAm (where?) • The US is second (Ecuador) for the number of species though to be at risk of extinction globally (IUCN) • Many are plants (>5000sp). there are very high numbers in SAm.crayfish. sub-Saharan AF. stoneflies) . SE Asia.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment…the US • Proportion of sp threatened in US .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment…the US • Examining threats to US sp A correlative cause of many of these factors is urbanization .

2) . Madagascar 80% of plants and 30% of vertebrates (case study 3.Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Threatened species in other countries • Unfortunately. many countries lack solid data on what and how many sp are actually in trouble • Some countries have a high proportion of the flora and fauna at risk • E.g.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment
• What types of sp are most vulnerable? • Through studies, we have determined there are „suites‟ of characteristics that make some sp more vulnerable • E.g. large range requirements, narrow habitat range, rarity, low reproductive rate, extreme specialization or coevolutionary dependancies

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment
• Vulnerability due to Specialization • Many species (especially tropical) have narrow environmental ranges and highly specialized diets or habitats • Perturbations can easily disturb them • Specialization on other species can be precarious as well

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment
• Top carnivores with low densities, large ranges, large body size, are often cited as being vulnerable to habitat degradation, as well as overexploitation • For marine animals, body size itself does not appear to be a problem, but is associated with another…
low reproductive rate

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Vulnerability of Rare species • Why might a species be rare? – Consider 3 characteristics: geographic range. habitat breadth and abundance • How might each influence vulnerability? • How might they interact? .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment vent sp Island sp bats big cats raptors seabirds .

90 endemic plant species were discovered • Immediately following the inventory. entire ridge cleared for agriculture .Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Let‟s consider a case of extreme endemism: „Centinela Ridge‟ in Ecuador • During a RAP inventory.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Island communities have relatively high rates of endemism. why? . although communities maybe less rich than comparable mainland sites • However. many island biotas are frequently endangered.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Case Study: birds of Channel Islands • 80 year comparison of pop(s) – – – – 40% of small pop(s) went extinct (<10 bp) 10% of pop(s) with 10-100 breeding pairs 1 population of 100-1000 bp No pop(s) if >1000 bp .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • “Bad luck” species do not have intrinsically vulnerable traits. just bad luck • For example. whatever their LHC • 50% of variation in extinction risk for primates and carnivores is strictly due to anthropogenic distrubances . many freshwater fish near large cities are vulnerable.

areas of high endemism and richness are areas of high human growth (e. s. e-c TX.g.Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Economic and Social Context • Economic growth and rising affluence drive habitat conversion and overexploitation • Unfortunately in the US. CA. s FL) .

grazing and bushmeat hunting occur wherever these practices help people survive .7B < $2/day • As a result. unsustainable levels of burning. small-scale agriculture. billions live in poverty – 1B < $1/day – 2.Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • At the other end of the economic spectrum.

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Responses to the Biodiversity Crisis • Conservationists and developers agree where solutions need to come from: – 1) scientific analysis and promotion of the causes of biodiversity change – 2) technological improvements – 3) legal and institutional instruments – 4) economic incentives and plans – 5) social interventions .

Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Solutions will include: – Establishing protected areas – Targeted interventions at the genetic. species. and ecosystems levels – Restoration of damaged ecosystems – Recovery of endangered species – Creation of sustainable forms of development .

many conservation actions are achieved at smaller scales (i.e.Current Pattern of Global Endangerment • Single-species approaches will not be enough to conserve „biodiversity‟…larger spatial scales are going to be needed • However. local) • Need to prioritize and plan at larger scales (consisting of local partners) Conservationist‟s are generally asking “where” questions to set geographical priorities and “how” questions about developing and implementing strategies to conserve conservation targets at priority places Redford 2003 .

3!! .Laws and International Agreements • One major tool for conservationists are US laws and international agreements • Please Review Case Study 3.

establish a plan to remove or eliminate the identified threats • As easy as they sound. none of these steps are as easy as they appear and the further along. the more „external‟ factors enter the process .Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • The first step is identifying a trend • The second step is to determine what factors most influence trends • Finally.

Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • Besides developing a plan for a single species. important to track „status‟ trends to determine success • The Red List Index tallies changes in status due to either a deterioration or improvement of all threatened species .

birds down 7% • Albatrosses and petrels down 25% .Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • Overall.

pop change of 1100 terrestrial. and freshwater vertebrate sp) . LPI (living planet index.Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • Unfortunately most species groups are too poorly known to adequately evaluate trends • However there are a number of indicies attempting to bridge these gaps • IBI (index of biotic integrity). marine.

Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • Terrestrial sp (A) and broken down .

Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • It is not enough to determine where changes are occurring (reactive). but rather perhaps we can use information to generate predictive models of what species or systems may be more vulnerable than others (proactive) .

Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • Projected trends • Dark most impact .

Driving Factors and Trends in Species Endangerment • In the end. it is essential we better understand the factors that drive human behavior. which ultimately drive the causes of biodiversity loss .