Opportunities and costs for preventing vertebrate extinctions

Dalia Amor Conde, Fernando Colchero, Burak Güneralp, Markus Gusset, Ben Skolnik, Michael Parr, Onnie Byers, Kevin Johnson, Glyn Young, Nate Flesness, Hugh Possingham, John Fa

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Despite an increase in policy and management responses to the global biodiversity crisis, implementation of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets still shows insufficient progress [1] . These targets, strategic goals defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), address major causes of biodiversity loss in part by establishing protected areas (Target 11) and preventing species extinctions (Target 12). To achieve this, increased interventions will be required for a large number of sites and species. The Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) [2] , a consortium of conservation-oriented organisations that aims to protect Critically Endangered and Endangered species restricted to single sites, has identified 920 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, conifers and reef-building corals in 588 ‘trigger’ sites [3] . These are arguably the most irreplaceable category of important biodiversity conservation sites. Protected area coverage of AZE sites is a key indicator of progress towards Target 11 [1] . Moreover, effective conservation of AZE sites is essential to achieve Target 12, as the loss of any of these sites would certainly result in the global extinction of at least one species [2] . However, averting human-induced species extinctions within AZE sites requires enhanced planning tools to increase the chances of success [3] . Here, we assess the potential for ensuring the long-term conservation of AZE vertebrate species (157 mammals, 165 birds, 17 reptiles and 502 amphibians) by calculating a conservation opportunity index (COI) for each species. The COI encompasses a set of measurable indicators that quantify the possibility of achieving successful conservation of a species in its natural habitat (COIh) and by establishing insurance populations in zoos (COIc).
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)219-221
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 16. Mar 2015


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