• Open Access

Extinction risk and bottlenecks in the conservation of charismatic marine species

Authors

  • Loren McClenachan,

    1. Earth to Ocean Research Group, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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  • Andrew B. Cooper,

    1. School of Resource & Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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  • Kent E. Carpenter,

    1. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Species Programme Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Conservation International (CI) Global Marine Species Assessment, Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
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  • Nicholas K. Dulvy

    1. Earth to Ocean Research Group, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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Loren McClenachan, Earth to Ocean Research Group, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada. Tel: 858.405.9512; fax: 778.782.3496. E-mail: loren.mcclenachan@gmail.com

Abstract

The oceans face a biodiversity crisis, but the degree and scale of extinction risk remains poorly characterized. Charismatic species are most likely to garner greatest support for conservation and thus provide a best-case scenario of the status of marine biodiversity. We summarize extinction risk and diagnose impediments to successful conservation for 1,568 species in 16 families of marine animals in the movie Finding Nemo. Sixteen percent (12–34%) of those that have been evaluated are threatened, ranging from 9% (7–28%) of bony fishes to 100% (83–100%) of marine turtles. A lack of scientific knowledge impedes analysis of threat status for invertebrates, which have 1,000 times fewer conservation papers than do turtles. Legal protection is severely deficient for sharks and rays; only 8% of threatened species in our analysis are protected. Extinction risk among wide-ranging taxa is higher than most terrestrial groups, suggesting a different conservation focus is required in the sea.

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