Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Dec 6;113(49):14079-14084. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

Large numbers of vertebrates began rapid population decline in the late 19th century.

Li H1,2, Xiang-Yu J2, Dai G2, Gu Z2, Ming C2,3, Yang Z2,3, Ryder OA4, Li WH5,6, Fu YX7,8, Zhang YP9,3,10.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Kunming 650223, China.
2
CAS Key Laboratory of Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Society (CAS-MPS) Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS, Shanghai 200031, China.
3
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
4
Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global, Escondido, CA 92027.
5
Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 11529, Republic of China; wli@uchicago.edu Yunxin.Fu@uth.tmc.edu zhangyp@mail.kiz.ac.cn.
6
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637.
7
State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resource, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China; wli@uchicago.edu Yunxin.Fu@uth.tmc.edu zhangyp@mail.kiz.ac.cn.
8
Department of Biostatistics and Human Genetics Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030.
9
State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Kunming 650223, China; wli@uchicago.edu Yunxin.Fu@uth.tmc.edu zhangyp@mail.kiz.ac.cn.
10
State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resource, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China.

Abstract

Accelerated losses of biodiversity are a hallmark of the current era. Large declines of population size have been widely observed and currently 22,176 species are threatened by extinction. The time at which a threatened species began rapid population decline (RPD) and the rate of RPD provide important clues about the driving forces of population decline and anticipated extinction time. However, these parameters remain unknown for the vast majority of threatened species. Here we analyzed the genetic diversity data of nuclear and mitochondrial loci of 2,764 vertebrate species and found that the mean genetic diversity is lower in threatened species than in related nonthreatened species. Our coalescence-based modeling suggests that in many threatened species the RPD began ∼123 y ago (a 95% confidence interval of 20-260 y). This estimated date coincides with widespread industrialization and a profound change in global living ecosystems over the past two centuries. On average the population size declined by ∼25% every 10 y in a threatened species, and the population size was reduced to ∼5% of its ancestral size. Moreover, the ancestral size of threatened species was, on average, ∼22% smaller than that of nonthreatened species. Because the time period of RPD is short, the cumulative effect of RPD on genetic diversity is still not strong, so that the smaller ancestral size of threatened species may be the major cause of their reduced genetic diversity; RPD explains 24.1-37.5% of the difference in genetic diversity between threatened and nonthreatened species.

KEYWORDS:

coalescent; conservation; rapid population decline; threatened species; vertebrate

PMID:
27872315
PMCID:
PMC5150392
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1616804113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center