|Monroe, MJ; Butchart, SHM; Mooers, AO; Bokma, F
|Biol. Lett. 15 Article Link (DOI) PubMed
|The dynamics underlying avian extinction trajectories forecast a wave of extinctions
|Population decline is a process, yet estimates of current extinction rates often consider just the final step of that process by counting numbers of species lost in historical times. This neglects the increased extinction risk that affects a large proportion of species, and consequently underestimates the effective extinction rate. Here, we model observed trajectories through IUCN Red List extinction risk categories for all bird species globally over 28 years, and estimate an overall effective extinction rate of 2.17 x 10(-4)/species/year. This is six times higher than the rate of outright extinction since 1500, as a consequence of the large number of species whose status is deteriorating. We very conservatively estimate that global conservation efforts have reduced the effective extinction rate by 40%, but mostly through preventing critically endangered species from going extinct rather than by preventing species at low risk from moving into higher-risk categories. Our findings suggest that extinction risk in birds is accumulating much more than previously appreciated, but would be even greater without conservation efforts.
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