Stuart H. M. Butchart

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

Are you Stuart H. M. Butchart?

Claim your profile

Publications (141)857.07 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Declines in migratory species are a pressing concern worldwide, but the mechanisms underpinning these declines are not fully understood. We hypothesised that species with greater within-population variability in migratory movements and destinations, here termed 'migratory diversity', might be more resilient to environmental change. To test this, we related map-based metrics of migratory diversity to recent population trends for 340 European breeding birds. Species that occupy larger non-breeding ranges relative to breeding, a characteristic we term 'migratory dispersion', were less likely to be declining than those with more restricted non-breeding ranges. Species with partial migration strategies (i.e. overlapping breeding and non-breeding ranges) were also less likely to be declining than full migrants or full residents, an effect that was independent of migration distance. Recent rates of advancement in Europe-wide spring arrival date were greater for partial migrants than full migrants, suggesting that migratory diversity may also help facilitate species responses to climate change.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Ecology Letters
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Parrots (Psittaciformes) are among the most threatened bird orders with 28 % (111 of 398) of extant species classified as threatened under IUCN criteria. We confirmed that parrots have a lower Red List Index (higher aggregate extinction risk) than other comparable bird groups, and modeled the factors associated with extinction risk. Our analyses included intrinsic biological, life history and ecological attributes, external anthropogenic threats, and socio-economic variables associated with the countries where the parrot species occur, while we controlled for phylogenetic dependence among species. We found that the likelihood of parrot species being classified as threatened was less for species with larger historical distribution size, but was greater for species with high forest dependency, large body size, long generation time, and greater proportion of the human population living in urban areas in the countries encompassing the parrots’ home ranges. The severity of extinction risk (from vulnerable to critically endangered) was positively related to the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of the countries of occurrence, endemism to a single country, and lower for species used as pets. A disproportionate number of 16 extinct parrot species were endemic to islands and single countries, and were large bodied, habitat specialists. Agriculture, hunting, trapping, and logging are the most frequent threats to parrots worldwide, with variation in importance among regions. We use multiple methods to rank countries with disproportionately high numbers of threatened parrot species. Our results promote understanding of global and regional factors associated with endangerment in this highly threatened taxonomic group, and will enhance the prioritization of conservation actions.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Biodiversity and Conservation
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The contribution that remotely sensed satellite imagery could make to biodiversity monitoring is widely recognized, but remains largely unfulfilled at regional and global scales. Here, we use a publicly accessible global dataset to quantify forest loss during 2000–2012 across the world's 7279 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) that support forest bird species, and examine correlates of forest loss. Forest covered around 2 912 000 km2 in these IBAs in 2000, but had decreased by around 73 000 km2 by 2012, a 2.52% loss across all IBAs. The median loss within IBAs was 0.87% during this period, although high losses on some IBAs skewed the mean to 2.59%. Rates of forest loss in IBAs were highest in South America and South East Asia. The rate of forest loss increased notably between 2003 and 2007. In addition to the effect of year, the best fit model of forest loss contained coverage of IBAs by protected areas, altitude, slope, GDP and human population density. The parameter estimates of a best fit model indicated forest loss decrease with increased protected area coverage, increased IBA altitude, increased IBA steepness and increased IBA human population. Forest loss decreased with per capita national GDP. The model explained only a small amount of variation in forest loss and as such is inappropriate to make predictions about where future loss will occur. We provide open access code to undertake online analysis of future forest cover change data, aiding the remote monitoring of forest cover at any suite of priority sites.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016
  • Source
    S.H.M. Butchart · J.P.W. Scharlemann · M.I. Evans

    Full-text · Dataset · Dec 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Migratory species depend on a suite of interconnected sites. Threats to unprotected links in these chains of sites are driving rapid population declines of migrants around the world, yet the extent to which different parts of the annual cycle are protected remains unknown. We show that just 9% of 1451 migratory birds are adequately covered by protected areas across all stages of their annual cycle, in comparison with 45% of nonmigratory birds. This discrepancy is driven by protected area placement that does not cover the full annual cycle of migratory species, indicating that global efforts toward coordinated conservation planning for migrants are yet to bear fruit. Better-targeted investment and enhanced coordination among countries are needed to conserve migratory species throughout their migratory cycle.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Science
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Population trends play a large role in species risk assessments and conservation planning, and species are often considered threatened if their recent rate of decline meets certain thresholds, regardless how large the population is. But how reliable an indicator of extinction risk is a single estimate of population trend? Given the integral role this decline-based approach has played in setting conservation priorities, it is surprising that it has undergone little empirical scrutiny. We compile an extensive global dataset of time series of abundance data for over 1300 vertebrate populations to provide the first major test of the predictability of population growth rates in nature. We divided each time series into assessment and response periods and examined the correlation between growth rates in the two time periods. In birds, population declines tended to be followed by further declines, but mammals, salmon, and other bony fishes showed the opposite pattern: past declines were associated with subsequent population increases, and vice versa. Furthermore, in these taxa subsequent growth rates were higher when initial declines were more severe. These patterns agreed with data simulated under a null model for a dynamically stable population experiencing density dependence. However, this type of result could also occur if conservation actions positively affected the population following initial declines—a scenario that our data were too limited to rigorously evaluate. This ambiguity emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying causes of population trajectories in drawing inferences about rates of decline in abundance.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Biological Conservation
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite increasing concerns about the vulnerability of species’ populations to climate change, there has been little overall synthesis of how individual population responses to variation in climate differ between taxa, with trophic level or geographically. To address this, we extracted data from 132 long-term (greater than or equal to 20 years) studies of population responses to temperature and precipitation covering 236 animal and plant species across terrestrial and freshwater habitats. Our results identify likely geographical differences in the effects of climate change on populations and communities in line with macroecological theory. Temperature tended to have a greater overall impact on populations than precipitation, although the effects of increased precipitation varied strongly with latitude, being most positive at low latitudes. Population responses to increased temperature were generally positive, but did not vary significantly with latitude. Studies reporting significant climatic trends through time tended to show more negative effects of temperature and more positive effects of precipitation upon populations than other studies, indicating climate change has already impacted many populations. Most studies of climate change impacts on biodiversity have focused on temperature and are from middle to high northern latitudes. Our results suggest their findings may be less applicable to low latitudes.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To accommodate climate-driven changes in biological communities, conservation plans are increasingly making use of models to predict species’ responses to climate change. To date, species distribution models have been the most commonly used approach for assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change. Biological trait-based approaches, which have emerged recently, and which include consideration of species’ sensitivity and adaptive capacity, provide alternative and potentially conflicting vulnerability assessments and present conservation practitioners and planners with difficult choices. Here we discuss the differing objectives and strengths of the approaches, and provide guidance to conservation practitioners for their application. We outline an integrative methodological framework for assessing climate change impacts on species that uses both traditional species distribution modelling approaches and biological trait-based assessments. We show how these models can be used conceptually as inputs to guide conservation monitoring and planning.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Biological Conservation
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: World governments have committed to increase the global protected areas coverage by 2020, but the effectiveness of this commitment for protecting biodiversity depends on where new protected areas are located. Threshold-based and complementarity-based approaches have been independently used to identify important sites for biodiversity. Here we bring together these approaches by performing a complementarity-based analysis of irreplaceability in Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs; which are sites identified using a threshold-based approach). We determined whether irreplaceability values are higher inside than outside IBAs, and whether any observed difference depends on known characteristics of the IBAs. We focussed on three regions having comprehensive IBAs inventories and bird distribution atlases: Australia, Southern Africa and Europe. Irreplaceability values were significantly higher inside than outside IBAs, although differences were much smaller in Europe than elsewhere. Higher irreplaceability values in IBAs were associated with: presence and number of restricted-range species; number of criteria under which the site was identified; and mean geographic range size of the species for which the site was identified ('trigger species'). In addition, IBAs were characterised by higher irreplaceability values when using proportional species representation targets, rather than fixed targets. There were broadly comparable results both when measuring irreplaceability for trigger species and when considering all bird species, indicating a good surrogacy effect of the former. Recently the International Union for Conservation of Nature has convened a consultation to consolidate global standards for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), building from existing approaches like IBAs. Our results are important for informing this consultation, and in particular for a proposed irreplaceability criterion that will allow the new KBA standard to draw on the strengths of both threshold-based and complementarity-based approaches. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Conservation Biology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Extent of Occurrence (EOO) is a key metric in assessing extinction risk using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria. However, the way in which EOO is estimated from maps of species' distributions is inconsistent between assessments of different species, and between major taxonomic groups. It is often estimated from the area of mapped distribution, but these maps often exclude areas of unsuitable habitat in idiosyncratic ways and are not created at the same spatial resolutions. We assessed the impact on extinction risk categories of applying different methods for estimating EOO for 21763 species of mammals, birds and amphibians. Overall, we found that the percentage of threatened species requiring downlisting to a lower category of threat, taking into account other Red List criteria under which they qualified, spanned 11-13% for all species combined (14-15% for mammals, 7-8% for birds and 12-15% for amphibians) depending on the method used. Extrapolating from birds for missing data for amphibians and mammals suggests that 14% of threatened and Near Threatened species potentially require downlisting using a Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) approach, as now recommended by IUCN, with other metrics (such as alpha hull) having marginally smaller impacts. We conclude that uniformly applying the MCP approach will potentially lead to a one-time downlisting of hundreds of species, but ultimately ensure consistency across assessments and realign the calculation of EOO with the theoretical basis upon which the metric was founded. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Conservation Biology
  • Source

    Full-text · Dataset · Jul 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For 50 years, the IUCN Commissions, Secretariat, Members such as BirdLife International and partners such as UNEP-WCMC have been mobilising biodiversity and conservation knowledge products, which are fundamentally important for tracking progress towards 10 of the 20 Aichi Targets, and should similarly become so for seven of the emerging 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Each of these knowledge products comprises standards, governance and quality control, data sets, tools, capacity building and ongoing processes for derivation of biodiversity indicators. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, established in 1964, documents extinction risk for more than 76,000 species. Protected Planet, working from the mandate to provide the UN List of Protected Areas, is convened jointly with UNEP and documents ~220,000 protected areas. The Red List of Ecosystems aims to assess the risk of collapse of ecosystems, and is currently being piloted in a number of countries. Key Biodiversity Areas are sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, identified at national levels using globally standard criteria. The system has been developed over the last four decades by BirdLife International and others with ~15,000 sites identified; it is anticipated that IUCN will approve the umbrella standard around these existing approaches in 2015. Of the 55 global indicators mobilised for mid-term assessment of progress towards the Aichi Targets for the fourth Global Biodiversity Outlook, nearly a third were wholly or partly based on these knowledge products (spanning 10 of the Aichi Targets). Indicators derived from these knowledge products will also be applicable to seven of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, annual investment into these knowledge products is currently only a fraction of that necessary to maintain their currency, quality, and scope. If these key indicators towards the Aichi Targets are to be maintained, sustainable long-term financing mechanisms must be established to resource the underlying knowledge products.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Biodiversity
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: AimHuman activities are largely responsible for the processes that threaten biodiversity, yet potential changes in human behaviour as a response to climate change are ignored in most species and site-based vulnerability assessments (VAs). Here we assess how incorporation of the potential impact of climate change on humans alters our view of vulnerability when using well-established site and species VA methodologies. LocationSouthern Africa. Methods Our baseline was two published studies that used accepted VA methodologies aimed at examining the direct impacts of climate changes on species and sites. The first identified potential shifts in the distributions of 164 restricted-range avian species, the second forecasted species turnover in 331 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). We used a published spatially explicit assessment of potential climate change impacts on people to evaluate which species and sites overlap with human populations most likely to be impacted. By doing this, we were able to assess how the integration of potential climate impacts on human populations changes our perception of which species and sites are most vulnerable to climate change. ResultsWe found no correlation between species and sites most likely to be impacted directly by climate change and those where the potential response of human populations could drive major indirect impacts. The relative vulnerability of individual species and sites shifted when potential impacts of climate change on human communities were considered, with more than one-fifth of species and one-tenth of sites moving from low' to high' risk. Main conclusionsStandard VA methodologies that fail to consider how people are likely to respond to climate change will result in systematically biased assessments. This may lead to the implementation of inappropriate management actions, and a failure to address those species or sites that may be uniquely, or additionally, imperilled by the impacts of human responses to climate change.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Diversity and Distributions
  • Source

    Full-text · Dataset · Jun 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Following their failure to achieve a significant reduction in the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, world governments adopted 20 new ambitious Aichi biodiversity targets to be met by 2020.There is growing recognition that efforts to achieve one particular biodiversity target can contribute to achieving others, yet little attention is given to the fact that different targets may require conflicting solutions. Consequently, there is a risk that lack of strategic thinking might result, once again, in a failure to achieve governmental commitments to biodiversity conservation. We illustrate this dilemma by focusing on Aichi Target 11. This requires an expansion of terrestrial protected area coverage, which could also contribute to reducing the loss of natural habitats (Target 5), reducing human-induced species decline and extinction (Target 12), and maintaining global carbon stocks (Target 15). We consider the potential impact of expanding protected areas to mitigate global deforestation and the consequences for the distribution of suitable habitat for >10000 species of forest vertebrates (amphibians, birds and mammals). We found that expanding protected areas toward locations with the highest deforestation rates (Target 5) or the highest potential loss of aggregate species' suitable habitat (Target 12) would result in partially different protected area network configurations (overlapping with each other by ca. 73%). Moreover, the latter approach would contribute to safeguarding ca. 30% more global carbon stocks (measures as tons/ha) than the former. Further investigation of synergies and trade-offs between targets would shed light on these and other complex interactions, such as the interaction between reducing overexploitation of natural resources (Targets 6, 7), controlling invasive alien species (Target 9) and preventing extinctions of native species (Target 12). Synergies between targets must be identified and secured soon and trade-offs must be minimized, before the options for co-benefits are reduced by human pressures. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Conservation Biology
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: AimWe conduct the first assessment of likely future climate change impacts for biodiversity across the West African protected area (PA) network using climate projections that capture important climate regimes (e.g. West African Monsoon) and mesoscale processes that are often poorly simulated in general circulation models (GCMs).LocationWest Africa.Methods We use correlative species distribution models to relate species (amphibians, birds, mammals) distributions to modelled contemporary climates, and projected future distributions across the PA network. Climate data were simulated using a physically based regional climate model to dynamically downscale GCMs. GCMs were selected because they accurately reproduce important regional climate regimes and generate a range of regional climate change responses. We quantify uncertainty arising from projected climate change, modelling methodology and spatial dependency, and assess the spatial and temporal patterns of climate change impacts for biodiversity across the PA network.ResultsSubstantial species turnover across the network is projected for all three taxonomic groups by 2100 (amphibians = 42.5% (median); birds = 35.2%; mammals = 37.9%), although uncertainty is high, particularly for amphibians and mammals, and, importantly, increases across the century. However, consistent patterns of impacts across taxa emerge by early to mid-century, suggesting high impacts across the Lower Guinea forest.Main conclusionsReducing (e.g. using appropriate climate projections) and quantifying uncertainty in climate change impact assessments helps clarify likely impacts. Consistent patterns of high biodiversity impacts emerge in the early and mid-century projections, while end-of-century projections are too uncertain for reliable assessments. We recommend that climate change adaptation should focus on earlier projections, where we have most confidence in species responses, rather than on end-of-century projections that are frequently used. In addition, our work suggests climate impact should consider a broad range of species, as we simulate divergent responses across taxonomic groups.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Diversity and Distributions
  • Source

    Full-text · Dataset · Mar 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The effects of climate change on biodiversity are increasingly well documented, and many methods have been developed to assess species' vulnerability to climatic changes, both ongoing and projected in the coming decades. To minimize global biodiversity losses, conservationists need to identify those species that are likely to be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this Review, we summarize different currencies used for assessing species' climate change vulnerability. We describe three main approaches used to derive these currencies (correlative, mechanistic and trait-based), and their associated data requirements, spatial and temporal scales of application and modelling methods. We identify strengths and weaknesses of the approaches and highlight the sources of uncertainty inherent in each method that limit projection reliability. Finally, we provide guidance for conservation practitioners in selecting the most appropriate approach(es) for their planning needs and highlight priority areas for further assessments.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Nature Climate Change
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To address the ongoing global biodiversity crisis, governments have set strategic objectives and have adopted indicators to monitor progress towards their achievement. Projecting the likely impacts on biodiversity of different policy decisions allows decision makers to understand if and how these targets can be met. We projected trends in two widely used indicators of population abundance (the Living Planet Index; LPI) and extinction risk (the Red List Index; RLI) under different climate and land-use change scenarios. Testing these on terrestrial carnivore and ungulate species, we found that both indicators decline steadily, and by 2050, under a business-as-usual scenario, the LPI declines by 18–35% while extinction risk increases for 8–23% of the species, depending on assumptions about species responses to climate change. Business-as-usual will therefore fail CBD target 12 of improving the conservation status of known threatened species. An alternative sustainable development scenario reduces both extinction risk and population losses compared with Business-as-usual and could lead to population increases. Our approach to model species responses to global changes brings the focus of scenarios directly to the species level, thus taking into account an additional dimension of biodiversity and paving the way for including stronger ecological foundations into future biodiversity scenario assessments.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Conservation Letters
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Biodiversity is declining, with direct and indirect effects on ecosystem functions and services that are poorly quantified. Here we develop the first global assessment of trends in pollinators, focusing on pollinating birds and mammals. A Red List Index for these species shows that, overall, pollinating bird and mammal species are deteriorating in status, with more species moving towards extinction than away from it. On average, 2.4 species per year have moved one Red List category towards extinction in recent decades, representing a substantial increase in extinction risk across this set of species. This may be impacting the delivery of benefits to people that these species provide. We recommend that the index is expanded to include taxonomic groups that contribute more significantly to pollination, such as bees, wasps and butterflies, thereby giving a more complete picture of the state of pollinating species worldwide.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Conservation Letters

Publication Stats

6k Citations
857.07 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1995-2016
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Zoology
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2003-2015
    • BirdLife International
      Κίτο, Pichincha, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2008
    • Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC)
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal