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Keywords:

  • Conservation biogeography;
  • extinction risk;
  • gap analysis;
  • IUCN red list;
  • mammals;
  • Southern Hemisphere;
  • threat

Abstract

Aim  To examine the taxonomic uniqueness, range sizes, endemism and conservation status of southern temperate zone mammals and how factors impacting their conservation differ across hemispheres.

Location  Land surfaces of all continents (with the exception of Antarctica) and continental islands with an emphasis on the southern temperate hemisphere (land south of the Tropic of Capricorn).

Methods  We used data from the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to characterize conservation status, threats and range sizes to compare northern and southern temperate zone mammals. We assessed the taxonomic uniqueness of the two regions as derived from the EDGE programme. We also conducted a gap analysis by overlapping mammal ranges with protected area coverages for temperate regions.

Results  Southern temperate species are phylogenetically more unique than in the Northern Hemisphere. The endemics have significantly smaller range sizes and are at a significantly greater risk of extinction (about 50% greater, with 24.7% of species being threatened versus 15.6% in the Northern Hemisphere). Finally, southern temperate endemics are significantly more likely to exist outside protected areas (13.38% versus 3.65%).

Main conclusions  The southern temperate zone harbours a unique fauna, attributed to the long isolation from the northern temperate zone. Temperate regions are heavily exploited for human activities, especially grazing and agriculture. The Southern Hemisphere is particularly susceptible to disturbance, given the small range sizes of its species and the low degree of protected area coverage. The scenario now is one of regions with numerous endemics under high threat from human activities.