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      Environmental Synergisms and Extinctions of Tropical Species

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      Conservation Biology

      Wiley

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          Abstract

          Environmental synergisms may pose the greatest threat to tropical biodiversity. Using recently updated data sets from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, we evaluated the incidence of perceived threats to all known mammal, bird, and amphibian species in tropical forests. Vulnerable, endangered, and extinct species were collectively far more likely to be imperiled by combinations of threats than expected by chance. Among 45 possible pairwise combinations of 10 different threats, 69%, 93%, and 71% were significantly more frequent than expected for threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians, respectively, even with a stringent Bonferroni-corrected probability value (p= 0.003). Based on this analysis, we identified five key environmental synergisms in the tropics and speculate on the existence of others. The most important involve interactions between habitat loss or alteration (from agriculture, urban sprawl, infrastructure, or logging) and other anthropogenic disturbances such as hunting, fire, exotic-species invasions, or pollution. Climatic change and emerging pathogens also can interact with other threats. We assert that environmental synergisms are more likely the norm than the exception for threatened species and ecosystems, can vary markedly in nature among geographic regions and taxa, and may be exceedingly difficult to predict in terms of their ultimate impacts. The perils posed by environmental synergisms highlight the need for a precautionary approach to tropical biodiversity conservation.

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          Most cited references 84

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          Synergies among extinction drivers under global change.

          If habitat destruction or overexploitation of populations is severe, species loss can occur directly and abruptly. Yet the final descent to extinction is often driven by synergistic processes (amplifying feedbacks) that can be disconnected from the original cause of decline. We review recent observational, experimental and meta-analytic work which together show that owing to interacting and self-reinforcing processes, estimates of extinction risk for most species are more severe than previously recognised. As such, conservation actions which only target single-threat drivers risk being inadequate because of the cascading effects caused by unmanaged synergies. Future work should focus on how climate change will interact with and accelerate ongoing threats to biodiversity, such as habitat degradation, overexploitation and invasive species.
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            Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife-- Threats to Biodiversity and Human Health

             P. Daszak (2000)
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              The status of the world's land and marine mammals: diversity, threat, and knowledge.

              Knowledge of mammalian diversity is still surprisingly disparate, both regionally and taxonomically. Here, we present a comprehensive assessment of the conservation status and distribution of the world's mammals. Data, compiled by 1700+ experts, cover all 5487 species, including marine mammals. Global macroecological patterns are very different for land and marine species but suggest common mechanisms driving diversity and endemism across systems. Compared with land species, threat levels are higher among marine mammals, driven by different processes (accidental mortality and pollution, rather than habitat loss), and are spatially distinct (peaking in northern oceans, rather than in Southeast Asia). Marine mammals are also disproportionately poorly known. These data are made freely available to support further scientific developments and conservation action.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                COBI
                Conservation Biology
                Wiley
                08888892
                15231739
                December 2009
                December 2009
                : 23
                : 6
                : 1427-1437
                Article
                10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01336.x
                20078643
                © 2009

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