The U.S. Endangered Species Act requires not only protection of all listed threatened and endangered species, but also recovery of species so that they are no longer at risk of extinction. Determining when species are recovered has proven to be difficult, in part because we do not know how to systematically measure the effects of various factors that contribute to extinction risk. For example, specific contributions of anthropogenic factors such as urban development and nutrient run-off to the rate of species decline have not been quantified. As a result, it is difficult to determine how much of those factors must be alleviated for species recovery.
One major obstacle to examining such relationships is the lack of a standardized system for classifying the anthropogenic factors that threaten species persistence. This study will:
- develop a standardized scheme for classifying anthropogenic threats,
- apply the scheme and compile a comprehensive database of anthropogenic threats and extinction risk, and
- synthesize these data to link specific human-induced threats and biological traits to a species’ risk of extinction.
The resulting threat classification scheme will be shared with agencies working with endangered species conservation to help standardize nomenclature and quantify threats. This work will also yield a publicly accessible database of species traits and threats, and a model to predict extinction risk for less well-studied species.