Conservation status of African reptiles

Africa has a larger land surface than China, India, North America and Western Europe combined, and is home to nine of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, yet our knowledge of Africa’s fauna is poorly documented.

Data resources used via GBIF : 104,000 species occurrences
Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus)

Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) by rvanhuyssteen via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Africa has a larger land surface than China, India, North America and Western Europe combined, and despite being home to nine of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, our knowledge of Africa’s fauna is poorly documented. This study aimed to elucidate knowledge gaps and conservation status of mainland African reptiles. Using GBIF-mediated occurrences, researchers quantified sampling efforts and species richness on a country level. They find species richness to be correlated to sampling, noting a potential bias. For the best sampled countries, species richness is strongly related to country area. The researchers also developed a Threat Index based on various socioeconomic factors, and find that countries with a high threat index also have the lowest levels of sampling. Combined with IUCN Red List data showing that more than half of African mainland reptiles have not been evaluated, the study highlights a need for increased data mobilization and centralization in open access databases such as GBIF.

Citations

Tolley KA, Alexander GJ, Branch WR, Bowles P and Maritz B (2016) Conservation status and threats for African reptiles. Biological Conservation. Elsevier BV 204: 63–71. Available at doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.04.006.

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