Area based assessment of extinction risk

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Underpinning the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List is the assessment of extinction risk as determined by the size and degree of loss of populations. The IUCN system lists a species as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable if its population size declines 80%, 50%, or 30% within a given time frame. However, effective implementation of the system faces substantial challenges and uncertainty because geographic scale data on population size and long-term dynamics are scarce. I develop a model to quantify extinction risk using a measure based on a species' distribution, a much more readily obtained quantity. The model calculates the loss of the area of occupancy that is equivalent to the loss of a given proportion of a population. It is a very simple yet general model that has no free parameters and is independent of scale. The model predicted well the distributions of 302 tree species at a local scale and the distributions of 348 species of North American land birds. This area-based model provides a solution to the long-standing problem for IUCN assessments of lack of data on population sizes, and thus it will contribute to facilitating the quantification of extinction risk worldwide.

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  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
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  • License
    © 2012 Ecological Society of America. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • He, F. (2012). Area based assessment of extinction risk. Ecology, 93(5), 974-980.