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Ecological distinctiveness of birds and mammals at the global scale

Ecological distinctiveness of birds and mammals at the global scale
Ecological distinctiveness of birds and mammals at the global scale
Ecologically distinct species - species with distinct trait combinations - are not directly prioritized in current conservation frameworks. The consequence of this blind spot means species with the most distinct ecological strategies might be lost. Here, we quantify ecological distinctiveness, based on six traits, for 10,960 bird and 5,278 mammal species, summarizing species-level ecological irreplaceability. We find that threatened birds and mammals are, on average, more ecologically distinct. Specific examples of ecologically distinct and highly threatened species are Great Indian Bustard, Amsterdam Albatross, Asian Elephant and Sumatran Rhinoceros. These species have potentially irreplaceable ecological roles and their loss could undermine the integrity of ecological processes and functions. Yet, we also identify ecologically distinct widespread generalists, such as Lesser Black-backed Gull and Wild Boar. These generalist species have distinct ecological strategies that allow them to thrive across multiple environments. Thus, we suggest that high ecological distinctiveness is associated with either high extinction risk or successful hyper-generalism. We also find that ecologically distinct species are generally charismatic (using a previous measure of public perceptions of charisma). We thus highlight a conservation opportunity: capitalizing on public preferences for charismatic species could provide support for the conservation of the most ecologically distinct birds and mammals. Overall, our prioritization framework supports the conservation of species with irreplaceable ecological strategies, complementing existing frameworks that target extinction risk and evolutionary distinctiveness.
Conservation, Evolutionary distinctiveness, Extinction risk, Prioritization, Threatened, Trait
Cooke, Robert
25919276-1693-4663-a306-a90e2db2a91f
Eigenbrod, Felix
43efc6ae-b129-45a2-8a34-e489b5f05827
Bates, Amanda E.
a96e267d-6d22-4232-b7ed-ce4e448a2a34
Cooke, Robert
25919276-1693-4663-a306-a90e2db2a91f
Eigenbrod, Felix
43efc6ae-b129-45a2-8a34-e489b5f05827
Bates, Amanda E.
a96e267d-6d22-4232-b7ed-ce4e448a2a34

Cooke, Robert, Eigenbrod, Felix and Bates, Amanda E. (2020) Ecological distinctiveness of birds and mammals at the global scale. Global Ecology and Conservation, 22, [e00970]. (doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e00970).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Ecologically distinct species - species with distinct trait combinations - are not directly prioritized in current conservation frameworks. The consequence of this blind spot means species with the most distinct ecological strategies might be lost. Here, we quantify ecological distinctiveness, based on six traits, for 10,960 bird and 5,278 mammal species, summarizing species-level ecological irreplaceability. We find that threatened birds and mammals are, on average, more ecologically distinct. Specific examples of ecologically distinct and highly threatened species are Great Indian Bustard, Amsterdam Albatross, Asian Elephant and Sumatran Rhinoceros. These species have potentially irreplaceable ecological roles and their loss could undermine the integrity of ecological processes and functions. Yet, we also identify ecologically distinct widespread generalists, such as Lesser Black-backed Gull and Wild Boar. These generalist species have distinct ecological strategies that allow them to thrive across multiple environments. Thus, we suggest that high ecological distinctiveness is associated with either high extinction risk or successful hyper-generalism. We also find that ecologically distinct species are generally charismatic (using a previous measure of public perceptions of charisma). We thus highlight a conservation opportunity: capitalizing on public preferences for charismatic species could provide support for the conservation of the most ecologically distinct birds and mammals. Overall, our prioritization framework supports the conservation of species with irreplaceable ecological strategies, complementing existing frameworks that target extinction risk and evolutionary distinctiveness.

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Ecological distinctiveness_V12 - Accepted Manuscript
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Ecological distinctiveness of birds and mammals - Accepted Manuscript
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 13 February 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 14 February 2020
Published date: June 2020
Keywords: Conservation, Evolutionary distinctiveness, Extinction risk, Prioritization, Threatened, Trait

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 438020
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/438020
PURE UUID: 8dbdb78d-7705-4136-967b-928135df954c
ORCID for Felix Eigenbrod: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8982-824X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Feb 2020 17:31
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:15

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