Reducing the rate of species extinctions is one of the great challenges of our time. Understanding patterns in the distribution and frequency of both threatened species and the threatening processes affecting them improves our ability to mitigate threats and prioritize management actions. In this quantitative synthesis of processes threatening Australian at-risk fauna, we find that species are impacted by a median of six threats (range 1–19), though there is considerable variation in numbers of threats among major taxonomic groups. Invasive species, habitat loss, biological resource use, natural systems modification and climate change are the processes most commonly affecting Australian threatened species. We identified an uneven distribution of research knowledge among species, with half of the total number of species-specific peer-reviewed scientific publications associated with only 11 threatened species (2.7%). Furthermore, the number of threats associated with each species was correlated with the research effort for that species, and research effort was correlated with body mass. Hence, there appears to be a research bias towards larger-bodied species, and certain charismatic species, that could result in inferences biased towards these favored species. However, after accounting for these effects we found that for birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals body mass is positively correlated with the number of threats associated with each species. Many threats also co-occur, indicating that threat syndromes may be common.

Body mass, Conservation, Extinction risk, Prioritization, Threatened species, Vulnerability
Biological Conservation
Department of Biology

Allek, A. (Adriana), Assis, A.S. (Ariadna S.), Eiras, N. (Nicoli), Amaral, T.P. (Thais P.), Williams, B. (Brooke), Butt, N. (Nathalie), … Beyer, H.L. (Hawthorne L.). (2018). The threats endangering Australia's at-risk fauna. Biological Conservation, 222, 172–179. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.029