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Population and geographic range dynamics: Implications for conservation planning

Mace, G.M., Collen, B., Fuller, R.A. & Boakes, E.H. 2010. Population and geographic range dynamics: Implications for conservation planning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365, 3743-3751.

Continuing downward trends in the population sizes of many species, in the conservation status of threatened species, and in the quality, extent and connectedness of habitats are of increasing concern. Identifying the attributes of declining populations will help predict how biodiversity will be impacted and guide conservation actions. However, the drivers of biodiversity declines have changed over time and average trends in abundance or distributional change hide significant variation among species. While some populations are declining rapidly, the majority remain relatively stable and others are increasing. Here we dissect out some of the changing drivers of population and geographic range change, and identify biological and geographical correlates of winners and losers in two large datasets covering local population sizes of vertebrates since 1970 and the distributions of Galliform birds over the last two centuries. We find weak evidence for ecological and biological traits being predictors of local decline in range or abundance, but stronger evidence for the role of local anthropogenic threats and environmental change. An improved understanding of the dynamics of threat processes and how they may affect different species will help to guide better conservation planning in a continuously changing world.

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