When all life counts in conservation.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Conserv Biol, 2019
Issue Date:
2019-11-28
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Conservation biology involves the collection and analysis of data. These scientific practices emerge from values that shape who and what is counted. Currently, conservation data is filtered through a value system that considers "native" life the only appropriate subject of conservation concern. We examined how trends in species richness, distribution, and threats change when all wildlife count by adding "non-native" and "feral" populations to global IUCN Red List and local species richness assessments. We focused on vertebrate populations whose founding members were taken into and out of Australia by humans (hence migrants). We identified 87 immigrant and 47 emigrant vertebrate species. We found that formal conservation accounts underestimate global ranges by an average of 30% for immigrants and 7% for emigrants; that immigrations surpass extinctions in Australia by 52 species; that migrants are disproportionately threatened, with 33% of immigrants and 29% of emigrants threatened or decreasing in their native ranges; and that incorporating migrant populations into risk assessments could reduce global threat statuses for 15 (of 18) species. We also found that Australian policies define most immigrants as "pests" (76%), and that conservation is the most commonly stated motivation for targeting these species in killing programs (37% of immigrants). Inclusive biodiversity data opens space for dialogue on the ethical and empirical assumptions underlying conservation biology. Article impact statement: Expanding conservation's moral circle to include all wildlife changes conservation data. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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