05 January 2015
Targeting conservation efforts to safeguard biodiversity, rather than focusing on charismatic species, could make current spending on threatened birds four times more effective, a new study has shown.
The research, by Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), is the first to link the costs of protecting threatened species with their genetic distinctiveness, measured in millions of years of evolution. It identifies the top 20 birds for safeguarding maximum biodiversity with minimum spend, of which number one on the list - Botha's Lark - currently receives no conservation spending at all.
The researchers focused on some 200 birds categorised in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List as either Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered, in a study published today, 5 January, in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
They found that if conservation spending on these birds continues along current lines, only 85.9 million years of evolutionary history will be safeguarded, compared to a potential impact of 340 million years.