Large, particular bovids may require localised conservation effort to prevent extinction

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Given growing human populations, concomitant resource use, and habitat transformation, ungulates face the localised extinction of numerous populations. Among ungulates, bovids are particularly vulnerable as many species are harvested as bushmeat and have large home range requirements. Here we determined the extent of geographic distribution and species richness (extent of range overlap) for bovids (Order, Artiodactyla, Family, Bovidae, n = 129), and used the IUCN Redlist status of species to determine life history, ecological and anthropogenic correlates of decline (sourced through the PanTHERIA database). Based on the extent of range overlap, we found that bovid species richness is relatively high in the tropics, particularly across central and east Africa. We used generalised linear mixed models and multimodel inference to determine the parameters associated with extirpation, accounting for evolutionary relatedness (random effects). The best predictor of bovid extinction risk was body mass. Overall model deviance explained was low (3% for the global model), suggesting that localised correlates of population decline (not accounted for at a macro-ecological scale) may be key to conservation effort. Our work highlights the extraordinary diversity of bovid species in the tropics and provides insight into important correlates of decline across the family. We encourage the prioritisation of conservation resources toward tropical bovids, with emphasis on large and range-restricted species.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRaffles Bulletin of Zoology
Issue numberSupplement 25
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2012