Hotspots of human impact on threatened terrestrial vertebrates.

Journal: PLOS Biology

Published: 2019-03-01

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000158

Affiliations: 7

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

Worldwide wildlife woes

© John Crux Photography/Getty

© John Crux Photography/Getty

Animals are living at risk from human activities on more than 80% of the Earth’s surface.

Identifying where human activity threatens endangered animals is crucial for their conservation, but global data has been lacking.

Now, a team that included researchers from the University of Queensland combined spatial information from Human Footprint — a high-resolution global map of major threats, from domestic waste to cropland — with the roaming ranges of 5,457 endangered animals to find the overlap.

They mapped the specific threats that endanger individual species and found that animals were threatened across 84% of the Earth’s surface. The five countries with the most impacted species were all in Southeast Asia, with Malaysia top of the hot spots. Interestingly, Malaysia also contained the refuge, or ‘cool spot’, with the highest number of unaffected species.

The new tool could help create focussed conservation projects, such as ensuring the preservation of cool spots while salvaging hot spots.

Supported content

  1. PLOS Biology 17, e3000158 (2019). doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000158
Institutions Share
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 0.60
University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Canada 0.14
CSIRO Land and Water, Australia 0.07
The Nature Conservancy, United States of America (USA) 0.07
UN Development Programme (UNDP), United States of America (USA) 0.07
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), United States of America (USA) 0.05