Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Clustered versus catastrophic global vertebrate declines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 18/05/21)

Author(s)

Brian Leung, Anna L. Hargreaves, Dan A. Greenberg, Brian McGill, Maria Dornelas, Robin Freeman

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Recent analyses have reported catastrophic global declines in vertebrate populations1,2. However, the distillation of many trends into a global mean index obscures the variation that can inform conservation measures and can be sensitive to analytical decisions. For example, previous analyses have estimated a mean vertebrate decline of more than 50% since 1970 (Living Planet Index2). Here we show, however, that this estimate is driven by less than 3% of vertebrate populations; if these extremely declining populations are excluded, the global trend switches to an increase. The sensitivity of global mean trends to outliers suggests that more informative indices are needed. We propose an alternative approach, which identifies clusters of extreme decline (or increase) that differ statistically from the majority of population trends. We show that, of taxonomic–geographic systems in the Living Planet Index, 16 systems contain clusters of extreme decline (comprising around 1% of populations; these extreme declines occur disproportionately in larger animals) and 7 contain extreme increases (around 0.4% of populations). The remaining 98.6% of populations across all systems showed no mean global trend. However, when analysed separately, three systems were declining strongly with high certainty (all in the Indo-Pacific region) and seven were declining strongly but with less certainty (mostly reptile and amphibian groups). Accounting for extreme clusters fundamentally alters the interpretation of global vertebrate trends and should be used to help to prioritize conservation efforts.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-271
Number of pages18
JournalNature
Volume588
Issue number7837
Early online date18 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Novel communities are a risky business

    Dornelas, M. & Madin, J. S., 9 Oct 2020, In: Science (New York, N.Y.). 370, 6513, p. 164-165 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

  2. A geometric basis for surface habitat complexity and biodiversity

    Torres-Pulliza, D., Dornelas, M. A., Pizarro, O., Bewley, M., Blowes, S. A., Boutros, N., Brambilla, V., Chase, T. J., Frank, G., Friedman, A., Hoogenboom, M. O., Williams, S., Zawada, K. J. A. & Madin, J. S., 24 Aug 2020, In: Nature Ecology and Evolution.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Recent increases in assemblage rarity are linked to increasing local immigration

    Jones, F. A. M., Dornelas, M. & Magurran, A., 29 Jul 2020, In: Royal Society Open Science. 7, 7, 9 p., 192045.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Landscape-scale forest loss as a catalyst of population and biodiversity change

    Daskalova, G. N., Myers-Smith, I. H., Bjorkman, A. D., Blowes, S. A., Supp, S. R., Magurran, A. E. & Dornelas, M., 19 Jun 2020, In: Science. 368, 6497, p. 1341-1347 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. How forest loss has changed biodiversity across the globe over the last 150 years

    Dornelas, M., Daskalova, G. & Myers-Smith, I., 18 Jun 2020, The Conversation.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Related by journal

  1. Nature (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)

    21 Dec 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Nature (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)

    11 Nov 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Nature (Journal)

    David Gerard Dritschel (Editor)

    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Nature (Journal)

    Ifor David William Samuel (Editor)

    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. An anti-CRISPR viral ring nuclease subverts type III CRISPR immunity

    Athukoralage, J. S., McMahon, S., Zhang, C., Gruschow, S., Graham, S., Krupovic, M., Whitaker, R., Gloster, T. & White, M., 23 Jan 2020, In: Nature. 577, 7791, p. 572-575 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Analyses of non-coding somatic drivers in 2,658 cancer whole genomes

    PCAWG Drivers and Functional Interpretation Working Group, PCAWG Structural Variation Working Group & PCAWG Consortium, 6 Feb 2020, In: Nature. 578, 7793, p. 102-111 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. How STRANGE are your study animals?

    Webster, M. M. & Rutz, C., 18 Jun 2020, In: Nature. 582, p. 337-340 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 271317079

Top