From: Oregon State University
Published July 19, 2017 02:30 PM

Conserve intact forest landscapes to maximize biodiversity, reduce extinction risk

A new global analysis of forest habitat loss and wildlife extinction risk published today in the journal Nature shows that species most at risk live in areas just beginning to see the impacts of human activities such as hunting, mining, logging and ranching.

The researchers argue that these intact areas deserve higher priority for limited conservation dollars than areas already impacted heavily by human activity even though species are also threatened in the impacted areas.

“We have seen declines in species in landscapes that have already lost a massive amount of habitat,” said Matthew Betts, lead author and professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. “But we found much more support for what we call the initial intrusion hypothesis. It’s the initial hit caused by roads going into tropical forests and the human activities that follow that is most substantial. These are also the spots with the greatest sheer numbers of species.”

Betts and a team of researchers at Oregon State and BirdLife International, a nonprofit organization, reached their conclusions by analyzing global datasets of forest habitat and species extinction risk. Betts and Christopher Wolf, an Oregon State Ph.D. student in forest ecosystems and statistics along with six co-authors, used forest data assembled by Matthew Hansen at the University of Maryland and categories of extinction risk for 19,432 verterbate species, the so-called Red List, maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Read more at Oregon State University

Photo credit: Spencer Wright via Wikimedia Commons

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