A comparative analysis of components incorporated in conservation priority assessments: a case study based on South African species of terrestrial mammals.
van Jaarsveld, A.S.
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Assessing the risk of extinction to species forms an essential part of regional conservation initiatives that facilitate the allocation of limited resources for conservation. The present study conducted conservation priority assessments for 221 South African terrestrial mammal species using existing data sources. These data sources included regional IUCN Red List assessments, regional geographic distributions, relative endemism, taxonomic distinctiveness, relative body mass and human density. These components were in turn subjected to two quantitative conservation priority assessment techniques in an attempt to determine regional conservation priorities for South African terrestrial mammals. The top 22 mammal species (i.e. the top 10% of assessed species) identified by both regional conservation priority assessment techniques to be of conservation priority, consistently identified 13 South African terrestrial mammal species to be of high conservation priority. Seven of the 13 species were from the order Afrosoticida, two species from the order Eulipotyphla, with one species each from the orders Chiroptera, Lagomorpha, Pholidota, and Rodentia. More importantly, 12 of the 13 mammal species were also listed as threatened in the 2004 Red Data Book of South African Mammals. These results suggest that the two conservation priority assessment techniques used in the present study may represent a practical and quantitative method for determining regional conservation priorities, and include measures that represent vulnerability, conservation value, and threat.