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Adopting a Holistic Approach to Amphibian Conservation

Tapley, Benjamin (2021) Adopting a Holistic Approach to Amphibian Conservation. PhD based on Published Works thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.90700) (KAR id:90700)

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Amphibians are significant components of healthy ecosystems and provide important ecosystem services. Amphibians are disproportionately threatened by a variety of anthropogenic threats and their current rates of extinction may be hundreds of times greater than background extinction rates. Whilst amphibians are overall highly threatened, there is an ongoing need to identify the most at-risk species and prioritise species for subsequent conservation. However, many amphibian species are poorly known, and new species are discovered on a weekly basis. Our lack of knowledge of amphibians may undermine our ability to use limited conservation resources to conserve the most imperilled species or assemblages. Conservation practitioners must decide when they know enough about a species or a threat to have some degree of certainty that conservation interventions will be effective against the backdrop of ongoing species decline and a need for imminent action. We show that we currently lack a robust understanding of the extinction risk in assessed amphibians, largely due to high rates of species discovery and financial constraints of undertaking extinction risk assessments. We demonstrate how integrative taxonomy, and the use of both traditional and non-traditional monitoring techniques may identify and robustly delimit cryptic species and aid timely extinction risk assessments by providing important data on their range, extent of available habitat and threats posted to amphibians. These data are often sufficient to inform conservation prioritisation schemes and identify candidate species for resource intensive conservation action such as ex situ conservation breeding programmes. However, some ex situ programmes have been established with insufficient data on species biology and natural history. Conversely, research on captive amphibian populations may elucidate aspects of species biology that were previously unknown and potentially difficult, time-consuming and costly to acquire. The knowledge gained through ex situ research may inform conservation management decisions in nature and represents an important contribution in efforts to combat global amphibian declines. Amphibians are an extremely diverse group of animals and even congeneric species may have dramatically different natural histories, differing susceptibilities to threats and differences with regard to the effectiveness of different conservation actions or interventions. Generalised Class-focused approaches to conserve amphibians that do not consider species-specific factors risk missing the subtle, yet potentially critical nuances that may be pivotal in the success of conservation programmes. Whilst there are knowledge gaps that currently impede conservation these could be overcome with the adoption of new methods, refined processes and by everyone working on amphibians taking a collective responsibility to conserve them.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD based on Published Works)
Thesis advisor: Griffiths, Richard
Thesis advisor: Roberts, David
Thesis advisor: Rowley, Jodi
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.90700
Uncontrolled keywords: conservation breeding, conservation prioritisation, monitoring, species description
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2021 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 08:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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