1 Tahrcountry Musings: A new index to assess mammal species that are most likely to become extinct

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A new index to assess mammal species that are most likely to become extinct

A new index called   SAFE (Species Ability to Forestall Extinction) has been developed by a team of Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide and James Cook University. This will help conservationists better understand how close species are to extinction.

The SAFE index is an improvement on previous studies into the minimum population sizes needed by species to survive in the wild. It gives a measure of how close species are to their minimum viable population size. It is an assessment of the distance a population is (in terms of abundance) from its minimum viable population size
According to the researchers SAFE is the best predictor yet of the vulnerability of mammal species to extinction. It is not intended to replace IUCN threat categorization but the SAFE index provides a more meaningful and fine-grained interpretation of the relative threat of species extinction than do the IUCN threat categories alone.
The team analyzed 95 mammals species and found nearly 60% are close to a 'tipping point' that could push the species to extinction. 25% are already close to extinction. The researchers aver that their analyses allow conservationists a better tool to determine where to spend funds and time. 

The SAFE index: using a threshold population target to measure relative species threat.    Gopalasamy Reuben Clements, Corey JA Bradshaw, Barry W Brook and William F Laurance.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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