Geographic and taxonomic patterns of extinction risk in Australian squamates

Reid Tingley, Stewart L. Macdonald, Nicola J. Mitchell, John C.Z. Woinarski, Shai Meiri, Phil Bowles, Neil A. Cox, Glenn M. Shea, Monika Böhm, Janice Chanson, Marcelo F. Tognelli, Jaclyn Harris, Claire Walke, Natasha Harrison, Savannah Victor, Calum Woods, Andrew P. Amey, Mike Bamford, Gareth Catt, Nick ClemannPatrick J. Couper, Hal Cogger, Mark Cowan, Michael D. Craig, Chris R. Dickman, Paul Doughty, Ryan Ellis, Aaron Fenner, Stewart Ford, Glen Gaikhorst, Graeme R. Gillespie, Matthew J. Greenlees, Rod Hobson, Conrad J. Hoskin, Ric How, Mark N. Hutchinson, Ray Lloyd, Peter McDonald, Jane Melville, Damian R. Michael, Craig Moritz, Paul M. Oliver, Garry Peterson, Peter Robertson, Chris Sanderson, Ruchira Somaweera, Roy Teale, Leonie Valentine, Eric Vanderduys, Melanie Venz, Erik Wapstra, Steve Wilson, David G. Chapple

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    Abstract

    Australia is a global hotspot of reptile diversity, hosting ~10% of the world's squamate (snake and lizard) species. Yet the conservation status of the Australian squamate fauna has not been assessed for >25 years; a period during which the described fauna has risen by ~40%. Here we provide the first comprehensive conservation assessment of Australian terrestrial squamates using IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Most (86.4%; n = 819/948) Australian squamates were categorised as Least Concern, 4.5% were Data Deficient, and 7.1% (range 6.8%–11.3%, depending on the treatment of Data Deficient species) were threatened (3.0% Vulnerable, 2.7% Endangered, 1.1% Critically Endangered). This level of threat is low relative to the global average (~18%). One species (Emoia nativitatis) was assessed as Extinct, and two species (Lepidodactylus listeri and Cryptoblepharus egeriae) are considered Extinct in the Wild: all three were endemic to Christmas Island. Most (75.1%) threat assessments were based on geographic range attributes, due to limited data on population trends or relevant proxies. Agriculture, fire, and invasive species were the threats that affected the most species, and there was substantial geographic variation in the number of species affected by each threat. Threatened species richness peaked on islands, in the Southern Alps, and across northern Australia. Data deficiency was greatest in northern Australia and in coastal Queensland. Approximately one-in-five threatened species were not represented in a single protected area. Our analyses shed light on the species, regions, and threats in most urgent need of conservation intervention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number108203
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiological Conservation
    Volume238
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

    Keywords

    • Assessment
    • Conservation status
    • Extinction risk
    • IUCN
    • Reptiles
    • Threat status

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  • Cite this

    Tingley, R., Macdonald, S. L., Mitchell, N. J., Woinarski, J. C. Z., Meiri, S., Bowles, P., Cox, N. A., Shea, G. M., Böhm, M., Chanson, J., Tognelli, M. F., Harris, J., Walke, C., Harrison, N., Victor, S., Woods, C., Amey, A. P., Bamford, M., Catt, G., ... Chapple, D. G. (2019). Geographic and taxonomic patterns of extinction risk in Australian squamates. Biological Conservation, 238, [108203]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108203