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Predicting the Risk of Extinction from Shared Ecological Characteristics

Janne S. Kotiaho, Veijo Kaitala, Atte Komonen, Jussi Päivinen and Paul R. Ehrlich
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 102, No. 6 (Feb. 8, 2005), pp. 1963-1967
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3374545
Page Count: 5
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Predicting the Risk of Extinction from Shared Ecological Characteristics
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Abstract

Understanding the ultimate causes of population declines and extinction is vital in our quest to stop the currently rampant biodiversity loss. Comparison of ecological characteristics between threatened and nonthreatened species may reveal these ultimate causes. Here, we report an analysis of ecological characteristics of 23 threatened and 72 nonthreatened butterfly species. Our analysis reveals that threatened butterflies are characterized by narrow niche breadth, restricted resource distribution, poor dispersal ability, and short flight period. Based on the characteristics, we constructed an ecological extinction risk rank and predicted which of the currently nonthreatened species are at the highest risk of extinction. Our analysis reveals that two species currently classified as nonthreatened are, in fact, at high risk of extinction, and that the status of a further five species should be reconsidered.

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