A global ecological signal of extinction risk in terrestrial vertebrates

Maya Munstermann, Noel Heim, Douglas McCauley, Jonathan Payne, Nathan Upham, Steve Wang & Matthew Knope
To determine the distribution and causes of extinction threat across functional groups of terrestrial vertebrates, we assembled a dataset on ecological traits for 18,016 species and tested, using phylogenetic comparative methods, which categories of habitat association, mode of locomotion, and feeding mode best predict extinction risk. We found that cave-dwelling amphibians, brachiating mammals (all of which are primates), aerial and scavenging birds, and pedal squamates are all disproportionately threatened with extinction. Across four vertebrate classes,...
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