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Nat Ecol Evol. 2017 Nov;1(11):1677-1682. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0332-2. Epub 2017 Oct 9.

The global distribution of tetrapods reveals a need for targeted reptile conservation.

Author information

1
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK.
2
Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, 8499000, Israel.
3
Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, 6997801, Israel.
4
Hawaii Biological Survey, 4 Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, 96817, USA.
5
Department of Biology, Villanova University, Villanova, PA, 19085, USA.
6
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7PY, UK.
7
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London, NW1 4RY, UK.
8
School of Basic Sciences, Physiology Sciences Department, Universidad del Valle, Cali, 760043, Colombia.
9
Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.
10
Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Distrito Federal, 70910-900, Brazil.
11
Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, The Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, 31096, Israel.
12
Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, 94300, Malaysia.
13
Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, 32816, USA.
14
Department of Biology, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, 92505, USA.
15
Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi/CZO, Caixa Postal 399, Belém, Pará, 66017-970, Brazil.
16
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor, MI, 48109-1048, USA.
17
Mosaic (Environment, Health, Data, Technology), Yaoundé, Cameroon.
18
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, 05508-090, Brazil.
19
Royal Museum for Central Africa, Leuvensesteenweg 13, Tervuren, 3080, Belgium.
20
Joint Experimental Molecular Unit, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, B-1000, Belgium.
21
Département des Vertébrés Récents, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, B-1000, Belgium.
22
School of Life Sciences, Joseph Banks Laboratories, University of Lincoln, Brayford Campus, Lincoln, LN6 7DL, UK.
23
NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Crowmarch Gifford, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK.
24
Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Carmagnola, Turin, I-10022, Italy.
25
Museo de Zoología, Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Apartado 17-01-2184, Quito, 170525, Ecuador.
26
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Laboratoire de Paludologie et Zoologie Médicale, UMR MIVEGEC, Dakar, Senegal.
27
Center for the Study of Biological Complexity, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 23284, USA.
28
Zoologische Staatssammlung München, München, D-81247, Germany.
29
Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, 610041, China.
30
Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, 6997801, Israel. uncshai@post.tau.ac.il.
31
Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, 6997801, Israel. uncshai@post.tau.ac.il.

Abstract

The distributions of amphibians, birds and mammals have underpinned global and local conservation priorities, and have been fundamental to our understanding of the determinants of global biodiversity. In contrast, the global distributions of reptiles, representing a third of terrestrial vertebrate diversity, have been unavailable. This prevented the incorporation of reptiles into conservation planning and biased our understanding of the underlying processes governing global vertebrate biodiversity. Here, we present and analyse the global distribution of 10,064 reptile species (99% of extant terrestrial species). We show that richness patterns of the other three tetrapod classes are good spatial surrogates for species richness of all reptiles combined and of snakes, but characterize diversity patterns of lizards and turtles poorly. Hotspots of total and endemic lizard richness overlap very little with those of other taxa. Moreover, existing protected areas, sites of biodiversity significance and global conservation schemes represent birds and mammals better than reptiles. We show that additional conservation actions are needed to effectively protect reptiles, particularly lizards and turtles. Adding reptile knowledge to a global complementarity conservation priority scheme identifies many locations that consequently become important. Notably, investing resources in some of the world's arid, grassland and savannah habitats might be necessary to represent all terrestrial vertebrates efficiently.

PMID:
28993667
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-017-0332-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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