Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 663–682

The pitfall-trap of species conservation priority setting

Authors

    • Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, c. Darwin, 2. Edificio BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid
    • Department of Vegetal Biology and Ecology, Ctra. Sacramento s/n La Cañada de San UrbanoUniversidad de Almería
  • José A. González
    • Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, c. Darwin, 2. Edificio BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Carlos Montes
    • Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, c. Darwin, 2. Edificio BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-010-9973-z

Cite this article as:
Martín-López, B., González, J.A. & Montes, C. Biodivers Conserv (2011) 20: 663. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9973-z

Abstract

To elucidate the factors underlying species conservation priority setting, we analysed the relationships among species’ structural complexity, scientific attention, threatened species listing, and conservation investments at different organisational levels, including global, European, national, and sub-national. Although the literature often highlights the need to consider criteria other than extinction risk status, our results show that an excessive use of Red lists still persists in the setting of conservation priorities. We found that organismal complexity, available scientific information, and species listing combine together to create a positive feed-back loop, in which more complex organisms have a larger proportion of threatened species in the Red lists and legal lists. This bias promotes research that is devoted to understanding conservation problems as well as more funds invested to solve them. We propose that a sort of pitfall-trap is currently constraining the species conservation priority setting, in which few species, mainly threatened and better-known species, tend to receive most of the funds and policy attention. To counteract this pitfall-trap, we highlight the need to increase scientific effort on lower taxa and expand Red lists to assess lesser-known taxonomic groups as well as the need to use other criteria for species conservation prioritisation.

Keywords

Bias in conservationConservation prioritiesThreatened speciesIUCN Red ListsConservation legislationMulti-scale analysisThreat status

Abbreviations

IUCN

International Union for Conservation of Nature

NRLs

National Red Lists

CR

Critically endangered

EN

Endangered

VU

Vulnerable

NT

Near threatened

LC

Least concern

NCTS

National Catalogue of Threatened Species

SHC

Sensitive to habitat change

SI

Of special interest

BD

Birds Directive

HD

Habitat Directive

Supplementary material

10531_2010_9973_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1281 kb)
10531_2010_9973_MOESM2_ESM.doc (164 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 164 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010