Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Most island vertebrate extinctions could be averted, concludes new study


Control and eradication of invasive species could prevent as much as 75 percent of all island-level extinctions predicted for globally threatened vertebrates

Date: August 18, 2016
Source: University of California - Santa Cruz

Eight of every ten species extinctions has occurred on islands, and invasive mammals are the leading reason for those losses. Currently, 40 percent of species at risk of global extinction are island inhabitants.

In the most thorough study of its kind, scientists have now analyzed global patterns of island vertebrate extinctions and developed predictive models to help identify places where conservation interventions will provide the greatest benefits to threatened island biodiversity.

Control and eradication of invasive species are effective conservation tools, but conservation scientists have lacked tools for identifying where these efforts will have the greatest impact. The new study, published August 18 inNature Communications and led by UC Santa Cruz researcher Erin McCreless, closes that gap.

Humans have introduced non-native rodents, destructive herbivores such as goats, and predators like feral cats and foxes to islands around the world. These novel disturbances decimate native island wildlife and change entire island ecosystems. At the same time, islands are hotspots of biodiversity and often support rare and unique species occurring nowhere else in the world.

Controlling invasive mammal populations, or removing them entirely from islands, is a highly effective tool for conserving island species and ecosystems, and such actions have contributed greatly to the recovery of many threatened island species. Conservation dollars are limited, however, and it is important that invasive mammal management efforts be focused on the islands where they will go the furthest toward conserving native island biodiversity.


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