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Conserv Biol. 2008 Feb;22(1):163-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2007.00798.x.

Range size and extinction risk in forest birds.

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Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, NC 27708, USA.


Small geographical range size is the single best predictor of threat of extinction in terrestrial species. Knowing how small a species' range has to be before authorities consider it threatened with extinction would allow prediction of a species' risk from continued deforestation and warming climates and provide a baseline for conservation and management strategies aspiring to mitigate these threats. To determine the threshold at which forest-dependent bird species become threatened with extinction, we compared the range sizes of threatened and nonthreatened species. In doing so, we present a simple, repeatable, and practical protocol to quantify range size. We started with species' ranges published in field guides or comparable sources. We then trimmed these ranges, that is, we included only those parts of the ranges that met the species' requirements of elevation and types of forest preferred. Finally, we further trimmed the ranges to the amount of forest cover that remains. This protocol generated an estimate of the remaining suitable range for each species. We compared these range estimates with those from the World Conservation Union Red List. We used the smaller of the two estimates to determine the threshold, 11,000 km2, below which birds should be considered threatened. Species considered threatened that have larger ranges than this qualified under other (nonspatial) red list criteria. We identified a suite of species (18) that have not yet qualified as threatened but that have perilously small ranges--about 11% of the nonthreatened birds we analyzed. These birds are likely at risk of extinction and reevaluation of their status is urgently needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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