Learning from Citizen Science approaches to map threats to wildlife globally and inform conservation policies

Learning from Citizen Science approaches to map threats to wildlife globally and inform conservation policies

The primary aim of this project was to advance our understanding of the spatial distribution of threats to species and to enhance the understanding of the interactions between multiple threats to species as well as to imbed new knowledge into relevant policy processes – specifically targeting the Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 process.

Project Aims

The primary aim of this project is to advance our understanding of the spatial distribution of threats to species, potentially their changes over time, and to enhance the understanding of the interactions between multiple threats to species using the IUCN Red List. Specifically, we hope to identify threat-hotspots as well as predictors of these, in order to help guide effective actions towards reducing pressure on biodiversity.

Key Activities

The two key activities have been the development of an assessment of threats to all 359 seabird species globally and the development of global maps of threat based on Red List data for all amphibians, birds and mammals as well as background document for a CBD meeting.

For the seabirds, the main activity has been the assessment of threats conducted by a research assistant as well as the writing up of a manuscript now published in Biological Conservation, 2019: Threats to Seabirds: a global assessment. Volume 237: 525-537.

For the global threat mapping the main activities have been the developing a model framework, classifying threats, running analysis, writing up the manuscript and presenting the results at scientific conferences. This part has been led by the Department of Zoology and UNEP-WCMC. As part of this work, we have also conducted four workshops in the David Attenborough Building (DAB) with external partners from the Zoological Society of London, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and University College London. These workshops were conducted in autumn 2017, spring 2018, summer 2018, and summer 2019.

The policy element has involved providing input to a series of policy frameworks based on scientific findings of this project: UN Ocean Conference Zero-draft of the Conference Declaration, the CBD 5th edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook. Additionally, developing policy briefs, background documents and delivering presentations to CBD Parties on the Ocean Pathway Week (13-15 Nov, 2019) , and conveying related messages on negotiations at the 2nd meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on CBD Post-2020 global biodiversity framework (24-29 February, Rome, Italy).

Conservation Impact

Our assessment of threats to seabirds revealed that the top threats to seabirds are invasive alien species, bycatch in fisheries, and climate change/severe weather. Across groups, there was however variation with albatrosses particularly affected by bycatch and more than 80% of penguin species affected by climate change/severe weather.

From our global threat maps, our results show that agriculture and logging are pervasive in the tropics, and that hunting & trapping is the most geographically widespread threat to mammals and birds. Additionally, we found that the exclusion of threats like hunting and climate change, from current state-of-the-art representations of human pressure can lead to the underestimation of overall pressure on biodiversity. Alarmingly, this is particularly the case in areas of the highest biodiversity importance.

From the policy engagement we experienced that there is a large increase in the interest of better understanding threats to biodiversity and a recognition that understanding where in the world different threats impact terrestrial vertebrate species is essential for designing effective conservation responses

Outputs

Publications

  • Dias Maria P., Martin Rob, Pearmain Elizabeth J., Burfield Ian J., Small Cleo, Phillips Richard, Yates Oliver, Lascelles Ben, Borboroglu Pablo G., Croxall John P. (2019). Threats to Seabirds: a global assessment. Biological Conservation, Volume 237: 525-537.
  • Information paper on threats to seabirds in response to the call for relevant information from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity to feed into the 5thedition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5).
  • Mike Harfoot, Alison Johnston, Andrew Balmford, Neil D. Burgess, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Maria P. Dias, Carolina Hazin, Craig Hilton-Taylor, Michael Hoffmann, Nick J. B. Isaac, Lars L. Iversen, Charlotte L. Outhwaite, Piero Visconti, Jonas Geldmann (re-submitted) Towards a global map of threats to species. Nature

Talks

  • Carolina Hazin: Threatened, endangered and declining species (Migratory species). Delivered at the Thematic Workshop on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Grant applications

  • Building on the results from this project a successful grant for the Danish Independent Research Council was also developed. This resulted in a four-year project to continue work in this space at the University of Copenhagen (total grant sum: £761,000).

Project Overview

Type: Funded Projects
Theme: Indicators, monitoring and effectiveness
Project code: CCI-07-17-010
Start date: September 1, 2017
Status: Complete

CCI partners Involved

Other Organisations Involved

Biological Records Centre at Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Conservation Programs at Zoological Society of London
Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London

Credits

Thumbnail image: Adrien Sifre via Flickr creative commons
Banner image: Corine Bliek via Flickr creative commons

Related Resources

Threats to seabirds: A global assessment

Threats to seabirds: A global assessment

We present the first objective quantitative assessment of the threats to all 359 species of seabirds, identify the main challenges facing them, and outline priority actions for their conservation. We applied the standardised Threats Classification Scheme developed for the IUCN Red List to objectively assess threats to each species and analysed the data according to…

Related Blog Posts

Learning from Citizen Science approaches to map threats to wildlife globally and inform conservation policies: September 2018 blog entry

Learning from Citizen Science approaches to map threats to wildlife globally and inform conservation policies: September 2018 blog entry

The following blog is written by Jonas Geldmann, Research Fellow, University of Cambridge (Project lead for the CCI Collaborative Fund project ‘Learning from Citizen Science approaches to map threats to wildlife globally and inform conservation policies’). The project is progressing as planned – working towards developing spatially specific maps of the major IUCN threats for…