Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 663–682 | Cite as

The pitfall-trap of species conservation priority setting

  • Berta Martín-López
  • José A. González
  • Carlos Montes
Original Paper

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 conservation Conservation priorities Threatened species IUCN Red Lists Conservation legislation Multi-scale analysis Threat 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)

References

  1. Anonymous (1990) Royal Decree 439/90, which regulates the National Catalogue of Threatened Species. BOE 82, pp 9468–9471Google Scholar
  2. Baillie JEM, Hilton-Taylor C, Stuart SN (2004) 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: a global species assessment. IUCN, GlandGoogle Scholar
  3. Baillie JEM, Collen B, Amin R, Akçakaya HR, Butchart SHM, Brummit N, Meagher TR, Ram M, Hilton-Taylor C, Mace GM (2008) Toward monitoring global biodiversity. Conserv Lett 1:18–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balmford A, Mace GM, Leader-Williams N (1996) Designing the ark: setting priorities for captive breeding. Conserv Biol 10:719–727CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balmford A, Crane P, Dobson A, Green RE, Mace GM (2005) The 2010 challenge: data availability, information needs and extraterrestrial insights. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 360:221–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker CG, Loyola RL (2008) Extinction risk assessments at the population and species level: implications for amphibian conservation. Biodivers Conserv 17:2297–2304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brito D, Ambal RG, Brooks T, De Silva N, Foster M, Hao W, Hilton-Taylor C, Paglia A, Rodríguez JP, Rodríguez JV (2010) How similar are national red lists and the IUCN Red List? Biol Conserv 134:1154–1158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burgman M (2004) Expert frailties in conservation risk assessment and listing decisions. In: Hutchings P, Lunney D, Dickman C (eds) Threatened species legislation—is it just an act?. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, pp 20–29Google Scholar
  9. Butchart SHM, Akçakaya HR, Chanson J, Baillie JEM, Collen B, Quader S, Turner WR, Amin R, Stuart SN, Hilton-Taylor C (2007) Improvements to the Red List Index. PLoS ONE 2:e140CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark JA, May RM (2002) Taxonomic bias in conservation research. Science 5579:191–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cox NA, Temple HJ (2009) European Red List of Reptiles. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  12. de Grammont PC, Cuarón AD (2006) An evaluation of threatened species categorization systems used on the American continent. Conserv Biol 20:14–27CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Doadrio I (2001) Atlas y Libro Rojo de los Peces Continentales de España. The Spanish Ministry of the Environment, MadridGoogle Scholar
  14. Farrier D, Whelan R, Mooney C (2007) Threatened species listing as a trigger for conservation action. Environ Sci Policy 10:219–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fazey I, Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2005) What do conservation biologists publish? Biol Conserv 124:63–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gärdenfors U (2001) Classifying threatened species at the national versus global levels. Trends Ecol Evol 16:511–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gärdenfors U, Hilton-Taylor C, Mace GM, Rodríguez JP (2001) The application of IUCN Red List criteria at regional levels. Conserv Biol 15:1206–1212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garnett S, Crowley G, Balmford A (2003) The costs and effectiveness of funding the conservation of Australian threatened birds. Bioscience 7:658–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hoffmann M, Brooks TM, da Fonseca GAB, Gascon C, Hawkins AFA, James RE, Langhammer P, Mittermeier RA, Pilgrim JD, Rodrigues ASL, Silva JMC (2008) Conservation planning and the IUCN Red List. Endanger Species Res 6:113–125Google Scholar
  20. IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List categories and criteria: version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, GlandGoogle Scholar
  21. IUCN (2009) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed 31 Jan 2009
  22. Joseph LN, Maloney RF, Possingham HP (2009) Optimal allocation of resources among threatened species: a project prioritization protocol. Conserv Biol 23:328–338CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Keller V, Bollmann K (2004) From red lists to species of conservation concern. Conserv Biol 18:1636–1644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lamoreux J, Akçakaya HR, Bennun L, Collar N, Boitani L, Brackett D, Brautigam A, Brooks T, da Fonseca G, Mittermeier R, Rylands A, Gärdenfors U, Hilton-Taylor C, Mace G, Stein B, Stuart S (2003) Value of the IUCN Red List. Trends Ecol Evol 18:214–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Laycock H, Moran D, Smart J, Raffaelli D, White P (2009) Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of conservation: The UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Biol Conserv 142:3120–3127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu J, Daily GC, Ehrlich PR, Luck GW (2003) Effects of households dynamics on resource consumption and biodiversity. Nature 421:530–533CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Mace GM, Kunin W (1994) Classifying threatened species: means and ends. Philos Trans Biol Sci 344:91–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mace GM, Lande R (1991) Assessing extinction threats—toward a reevaluation of IUCN threatened species categories. Conserv Biol 5:148–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mace GM, Collar NJ, Gaston KJ, Hilton-Taylor C, Akçakaya HR, Leader-Williams N, Milner-Gulland EJ, Stuart SN (2008) Quantification of extinction risk: IUCN’s system for classifying threatened species. Conserv Biol 22:1424–1442CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Martí R, Moral JC (2003) Atlas de las Aves Reproductoras de España. The Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Spanish Ornithologist Society, MadridGoogle Scholar
  31. Martín-López B, Montes C, Benayas J (2007) The non-economic motives behind the willingness to pay for biodiversity conservation. Biol Conserv 139:67–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Martín-López B, Montes C, Benayas J (2008) Economic valuation of biodiversity conservation: the meaning of numbers. Conserv Biol 22:624–635CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Martín-López B, Montes C, Ramírez L, Benayas J (2009) What drives policy decision-making related to species conservation? Biol Conserv 142:1370–1380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McShane TO (2003) The devil in the detail of biodiversity conservation. Conserv Biol 17:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Metrick A, Weitzman ML (1996) Patterns of behavior in endangered species preservation. Land Econ 1:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller RM, Rodríguez JP, Aniskowicz-Fowler T, Bambaradeniya C, Boles R, Eaton M, Gärderfons U, Keller V, Molur S, Walker S, Pollock C (2007) National threatened species listing based on IUCN criteria and regional guidelines: current status and future perspectives. Conserv Biol 21:684–696CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Milner-Gulland EJ, Kreuzberg-Mukhina E, Grebot B, Ling S, Bykova E, Abdusalamov I, Bekenov A, Gärdenfors U, Hilton-Taylor C, Salnikov V, Stogova L (2006) Application of IUCN Red Listing criteria at the regional and national levels: a case study from central Asia. Biodivers Conserv 15:1873–1886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Moreno JC (2008) Lista Roja 2008 de la flora vascular española. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino, y Sociedad Española de Biología de la Conservación de Plantas, MadridGoogle Scholar
  39. Moreno Saiz JC, Domínguez Lozano F, Sainz Ollero H (2003) Recent progress in conservation of threatened Spanish vascular flora: a critical review. Biol Conserv 113:419–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morillo C, Gómez-Campo C (2000) Conservation in Spain 1980–2000. Biol Conserv 95:165–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Munton P (1987) Concepts of threat to the survival of species used in Red Data Books and similar compilations. In: Fitter R, Fitter M (eds) the road to extinction. IUCN, Gland, pp 72–111Google Scholar
  42. Palomo JL, Gisbert J, Blanco JC (2007) Atlas y Libro Rojo de los mamíferos terrestres de España. The Spanish Ministry of the Environment, MadridGoogle Scholar
  43. Pereira HM, Cooper HD (2006) Towards the global monitoring of biodiversity change. Trends Ecol Evol 21:123–129CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Pleguezuelos M, Márquez R, Lizana M (2002) Atlas y Libro Rojo de los Anfibios y Reptiles de España. The Spanish Ministry of the Environment, MadridGoogle Scholar
  45. Possingham HP, Andelman SJ, Burgman MA, Medellín RA, Master LL, Keith DA (2002) Limits to the use of threatened species lists. Trends Ecol Evol 11:503–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Proença VM, Pereira HM, Vicente L (2008) Organismal complexity is an indicator of species existence value. Front Ecol Environ 6:298–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Redford KH, Coppolillo P, Sanderson EW, Fonseca GAB, Groves C, Mace G, Maginnis S, Mittermeier R, Noss R, Olson D, Robinson JG, Vedder A, Wright W (2003) Mapping the conservation landscape. Conserv Biol 17:116–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Restani M, Marzluff JM (2002) Funding extinction? Biological needs and political realities in the allocation of resources to endangered species recovery. Bioscience 52:169–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rodrigues ASL, Pilgrim JD, Lamoreux JF, Hoffman M, Brooks TM (2006) The value of the IUCN Red List for conservation. Trends Ecol Evol 21:71–76CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Rodríguez JP (2008) National Red Lists: the largest global market for IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Endanger Species Res 6:196–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schmeller DS, Gruber B, Budrys E, Framsted E, Lengyel S, Henle K (2008) National responsibilities in European species conservation: a methodological review. Conserv Biol 22:593–601CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Seddon PJ, Soorae PS, Launay F (2005) Taxonomic bias in reintroduction projects. Anim Conserv 8:51–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sergio C, Casas C, Brugués M, Cros M (1994) Lista vermelha dos briófitos da Península Ibérica. Instituto da Conservaçao da Natureza; Universidade de Lisboa, PortugalGoogle Scholar
  54. Sergio C, Brugués M, Cros RM, Casas C, García C (2006) The 2006 Red List and an updated checklist of bryophytes of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal, Spain and Andorra). Lindbergia 31:109–125Google Scholar
  55. Shapiro SS, Wilk MB (1965) An analysis of variance test for normality (complete samples). Biometrika 52:591–611Google Scholar
  56. Shogren JF, Tschirhart J, Anderson T, Ando AW, Beissinger SR, Brookshire D, Brown GM, Coursey D, Innes R, Meyer SM, Polasky S (1999) Why economics matters for endangered species protection. Conserv Biol 13:1257–1261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith KG, Darwall WRT (2006) The status and distribution of freshwater fish endemic to the Mediterranean Basin. IUCN, GlandGoogle Scholar
  58. Temple HJ, Cox NA (2009) European Red List of Amphibians. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  59. Temple HJ, Terry A (2007) The status and distribution of European mammals. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  60. Trimble MJ, van Aarde RJ (2010) Species inequality in scientific study. Conserv Biol 24:886–890CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Verdú JR, Galante E (2005) Libro Rojo de los Invertebrados de España. Dirección General para la Biodiversidad, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, MadridGoogle Scholar
  62. Vié J-C, Hilton-Taylor C, Pollock CM, Ragle J, Smart J, Stuart SN, Tong R (2008) The IUCN Red List: a key conservation tool. In: Vié J-C, Hilton-Taylor C, Stuart SN (eds) Wildlife in a changing world—an analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, pp 1–13Google Scholar
  63. Von May R, Catenazzi A, Angulo A, Brown JL, Carrillo J, Chávez G, Córdova JH, Curo A, Delgado A, Enciso MA, Gutiérrez R, Lehr E, Martínez JL, Medina-Muller M, Miranda A, Neira DR, Ochoa JA, Quiroz AJ, Rodríguez DA, Rodríguez LO, Salas AW, Seimon A, Siu-Ting K, Suárez J, Torres C, Twomey E (2008) Current state of conservation knowledge on threatened amphibian species in Peru. Trop Conserv Sci 1:397–416Google Scholar
  64. Wilson JRU, Proches S, Braschler B, Dixon ES, Richardson DM (2007) The (bio)diversity of science reflects the interests of society. Front Ecol Environ 5:409–414Google Scholar
  65. Zamin TJ, Baillie JEM, Miller RM, Rodríguez JP, Ardid A, Collen B (2010) National Red Listing beyond the 2010 target. Conserv Biol 24:1012–1020CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Berta Martín-López
    • 1
    • 2
  • José A. González
    • 1
  • Carlos Montes
    • 1
  1. 1.Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, c. Darwin, 2. Edificio BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Vegetal Biology and Ecology, Ctra. Sacramento s/n La Cañada de San UrbanoUniversidad de AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain

Personalised recommendations