Conservation Biology

Correlations among Extinction Risks Assessed by Different Systems of Threatened Species Categorization

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Courtesy of Conservation Biology

Abstract: Many different systems are used to assess levels of threat faced by species. Prominent ones are those used by the World Conservation Union, NatureServe, and the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission (now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). These systems assign taxa a threat ranking by assessing their demographic and ecological characteristics. These threat rankings support the legislative protection of species and guide the placement of conservation programs in order of priority. It is not known, however, whether these assessment systems rank species in a similar order. To resolve this issue, we assessed 55 mainly vertebrate taxa with widely differing life histories under each of these systems and determined the rank correlations among them. Moderate, significant positive correlations were seen among the threat rankings provided by the three systems (correlations 0.58–0.69). Further, the threat rankings for taxa obtained using these systems were significantly correlated to their rankings based on predicted probability of extinction within 100 years as determined by population viability analysis (correlations 0.28–0.37). The different categorization systems, then, yield related but not identical threat rankings, and these rankings are associated with predicted extinction risk.

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