Environmental synergisms and extinctions of tropical species

Laurance, William F., and Useche, Diana C. (2009) Environmental synergisms and extinctions of tropical species. Conservation Biology, 23 (6). pp. 1427-1437.

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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.

Item ID: 5609
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1523-1739
Keywords: tropical biology, conservation, climatic change, endangered species, environmental synergisms, extinction, fire, habitat fragmentation, hunting, IUCN Red Data Book, logging, species invasions, tropical forests
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2009 00:52
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8998 Environmentally Sustainable Information and Communication Services > 899899 Environmentally Sustainable Information and Communication Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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