Current Constraints and Future Directions in Estimating Coextinction

Conservation Biology (Impact Factor: 4.36). 01/2010; 24(3):682 - 690. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01398.x

ABSTRACT Coextinction is a poorly quantified phenomenon, but results of recent modeling suggest high losses to global biodiversity through the loss of dependent species when hosts go extinct. There are critical gaps in coextinction theory, and we outline these in a framework to direct future research toward more accurate estimates of coextinction rates. Specifically, the most critical priorities include acquisition of more accurate host data, including the threat status of host species; acquisition of data on the use of hosts by dependent species across a wide array of localities, habitats, and breadth of both hosts and dependents; development of models that incorporate correlates of nonrandom host and dependent extinctions, such as phylogeny and traits that increase extinction-proneness; and determination of whether dependents are being lost before their hosts and adjusting models accordingly. Without synergistic development of better empirical data and more realistic models to estimate the number of cothreatened species and coextinction rates, the contribution of coextinction to global declines in biodiversity will remain unknown and unmanaged.

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