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A global assessment of the drivers of threatened terrestrial species richness.

Howard, C. and Flather, C.H. and Stephens, P.A. (2020) 'A global assessment of the drivers of threatened terrestrial species richness.', Nature communications., 11 . p. 993.


High numbers of threatened species might be expected to occur where overall species richness is also high; however, this explains only a proportion of the global variation in threatened species richness. Understanding why many areas have more or fewer threatened species than would be expected given their species richness, and whether that is consistent across taxa, is essential for identifying global conservation priorities. Here, we show that, after controlling for species richness, environmental factors, such as temperature and insularity, are typically more important than human impacts for explaining spatial variation in global threatened species richness. Human impacts, nevertheless, have an important role, with relationships varying between vertebrate groups and zoogeographic regions. Understanding this variation provides a framework for establishing global conservation priorities, identifying those regions where species are inherently more vulnerable to the effects of threatening human processes, and forecasting how threatened species might be distributed in a changing world.

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Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:28 January 2020
Date deposited:26 February 2020
Date of first online publication:20 February 2020
Date first made open access:26 February 2020

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