New tools to collect and share information could help stem the loss of the world's threatened species, according to a paper published today in the journal Science. The study—by an international team of scientists that included John L. Gittleman, dean of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology—was led by Stuart L. Pimm of Duke University and Clinton N. Jenkins of the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas in Brazil.
"As databases coalesce and policymakers have access to greater information, we see real and improving successes for conservation science," Gittleman said.
The paper's authors reviewed recent studies in conservation science, looking at rates of species extinction, distribution and protection to determine where there were crucial gaps in knowledge, where threats to species are expanding and how best to tailor protection efforts to be successful.
By combining studies of the fossil record and of molecular analyses, they found the current rate of extinction—driven primarily by human activity—was roughly 1,000 times higher than the natural, background extinction rate—an alarming number that is likely to grow, they said.