From: Colorado State University
Published July 6, 2017 12:37 PM

Changes in conservation planning can benefit vulnerable mammals

Right now, a prairie dog in Colorado is busy increasing soil carbon retention, increasing water infiltration, and clipping vegetation that will help maintain local grasslands and provide nutritious forage for large herbivores like cattle and bison. And, somewhere in Mexico, a pollinating bat is ensuring agave plants make good tequila.

Mammals across the globe provide natural goods and services that we all depend on, but one quarter of the world’s mammals currently are threatened by human activities, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. Their functional traits (such as the ability to fly, swim, or dig) and the consequent ecological roles they play in ecosystems is just one lens through which to view mammalian diversity, but it isn’t the primary way most conservation efforts traditionally are prioritized. Most efforts look at the total number of species in an area and their vulnerability to determine conservation priorities, but that means biologically unique species – think about the platypus – may be underrepresented.

Novel work with global perspective

New research by Ana D. Davidson, a conservation scientist with the Colorado National Heritage Program within the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, underscores the viewing of global conservation priority areas through three lenses. They are: 1. the number of species (taxonomic); 2. functional diversity (traits); and 3. evolutionary history (phylogenetic). Viewed through these lenses, conservation efforts can more effectively help safeguard mammalian diversity.

Read more at Colorado State University

Image: These maps depict the most biodiverse regions (top 5%, 10%, and 17%) of the globe for each dimension of biodiversity. It also shows how these priority regions overlap across the dimensions of biodiversity. The most biodiverse regions across the three dimensions are shown in dark green; according to the study these areas should receive special attention for expanding the global protected area network. (Credit: Ana Davidson)

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