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Department of Zoology


Research by the University of Cambridge and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified some key mismatches between global biodiversity conservation priorities and global conservation effort.

Conservation resources are scare, biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate, and there is a need to effectively prioritise global efforts in order to conserve species threatened by extinction.

The research compared conservation priorities (habitats, and threats) as defined by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, against the time spent by staff working in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, research publications, and the twitter posts of large conservation organisations.

They found that whilst global conservation effort generally aligns with priorities identified by the IUCN Red List, there are some critical outliers that are not receiving the conservation effort their conservation status demands. Shrublands, rocky habitats, threats from residential and commercial development, and invasive alien species, receive disproportionately little attention.

The research was led by Dr David Aldridge of the Department of Zoology, IUCN Programme Officer Kevin Smith, and PhD student David Willer. They collaborate within the world’s largest cluster of conservation organisations, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, residing in The David Attenborough Building, Cambridge.

David Willer said: “today governments and society are needing to make critical conservation decisions in the context of rapid global change, and there is potential for key threats and habitats to receive less attention than required”.

Dr Aldridge added: “the lack of attention being paid to invasive non-native species is especially concerning as we know that they represent one of the world’s greatest drivers of biodiversity loss. As global trade continues to increase, and with new pathways such as sales through the internet moving species around the world, the conservation community needs to keep pace with these changing threats”.

The global conservation community would be wise to carefully consider and improve its understanding of effort-priority mismatches if the greatest number of threatened species are to be protected.

The research was published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution on 24th July. The full article can be found at the following link: