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Biological determinants of extinction risk: why are smaller species less vulnerable?

Cardillo, Marcel

Description

It is becoming increasingly clear that species of smaller body size tend to be less vulnerable to contemporary extinction threats than larger species, but few studies have examined the mechanisms underlying this pattern. In this paper, data for the Australian terrestrial mammal fauna are used to ask whether higher reproductive output or smaller home ranges can explain the reduced extinction risk of smaller species. Extinct and endangered species do indeed have smaller litters and larger home...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorCardillo, Marcel
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-10T22:59:45Z
dc.identifier.issn1367-9430
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/61237
dc.description.abstractIt is becoming increasingly clear that species of smaller body size tend to be less vulnerable to contemporary extinction threats than larger species, but few studies have examined the mechanisms underlying this pattern. In this paper, data for the Australian terrestrial mammal fauna are used to ask whether higher reproductive output or smaller home ranges can explain the reduced extinction risk of smaller species. Extinct and endangered species do indeed have smaller litters and larger home ranges for their body size than expected under a null model. In multiple regressions, however, only litter size is a significant predictor of extinction risk once body size and phylogeny are controlled for. Larger litters contribute to fast population growth, and are probably part of the reason that smaller species are less extinction-prone. The effect of litter size varies between the mesic coastal regions and the arid interior of Australia, indicating that the environment a species inhabits mediates the effect of biology on extinction risk. These results suggest that predicting extinction risk from biological traits is likely to be a complex task which must consider explicitly interactions between biology and environment.
dc.publisherCambridge University Press
dc.sourceAnimal Conservation
dc.subjectKeywords: body size; endangered species; extinction risk; litter size; population growth; Australasia; Australia; Eastern Hemisphere; World; Mammalia
dc.titleBiological determinants of extinction risk: why are smaller species less vulnerable?
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume6
dc.date.issued2003
local.identifier.absfor060309 - Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis
local.identifier.absfor060311 - Speciation and Extinction
local.identifier.ariespublicationu9511635xPUB596
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationCardillo, Marcel, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, ANU
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage63
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage69
local.identifier.doi10.1017/S1367943003003093
dc.date.updated2015-12-10T08:15:57Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-0043150817
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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