Pinpointing and preventing imminent extinctions

Taylor Ricketts, Eric Dinerstein, Tim Boucher, Thomas Brooks, Stuart Butchart, Michael Hoffmann, John Lamoreux, John Morrison, Mike Parr, John Pilgrim, Ana Rodrigues, Wes Sechrest, George Wallace, Ken Berlin, Jon Bielby, Neil Burgess, Don Church, Neil Cox, David Knox, Colby LoucksGary Luck, Lawrence Master, Robin Moore, Robin Naidoo, Robert Ridgely, George Schatz, Gavin Shire, Holly Strand, Wes Wettengel, Eric Wikramanayake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

378 Citations (Scopus)


Slowing rates of global biodiversity loss requires preventing species extinctions. Here we pinpoint centers of imminent extinction, where highly threatened species are confined to single sites. Within five globally assessed taxa (i.e., mammals, birds, selected reptiles, amphibians, and conifers), we find 794 such species, three times the number recorded as having gone extinct since 1500. These species occur in 595 sites, concentrated in tropical forests, on islands, and in mountainous areas. Their taxonomic and geographical distribution differs significantly from that of historical extinctions, indicating an expansion of the current extinction episode beyond sensitive species and places toward the planet's most biodiverse mainland regions. Only one-third of the sites are legally protected, and most are surrounded by intense human development. These sites represent clear opportunities for urgent conservation action to prevent species loss.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18497-18501
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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