Body Size and Risk of Extinction in Australian Mammals

Body Size and Risk of Extinction in Australian Mammals Abstract: The link between body size and risk of extinction has been the focus of much recent attention. For Australian terrestrial mammals this link is of particular interest because it is widely believed that species in the intermediate size range of 35–5500 g (the “critical weight range”) have been the most prone to recent extinction. But the relationship between body size and extinction risk in Australian mammals has never been subject to a robust statistical analysis. Using a combination of randomization tests and phylogenetic comparative analyses, we found that Australian mammal extinctions and declines have been nonrandom with respect to body size, but we reject the hypothesis of a critical weight range at intermediate sizes. Small species appear to be the least prone to extinction, but extinctions have not been significantly clustered around intermediate sizes. Our results suggest that hypotheses linking intermediate body size with high risk of extinction in Australian mammals are misguided and that the focus of future research should shift to explaining why the smallest species are the most resistant to extinction. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Conservation Biology Wiley

Body Size and Risk of Extinction in Australian Mammals

Conservation Biology, Volume 15 (5) – Oct 20, 2001

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2001 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0888-8892
eISSN
1523-1739
DOI
10.1111/j.1523-1739.2001.00286.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract: The link between body size and risk of extinction has been the focus of much recent attention. For Australian terrestrial mammals this link is of particular interest because it is widely believed that species in the intermediate size range of 35–5500 g (the “critical weight range”) have been the most prone to recent extinction. But the relationship between body size and extinction risk in Australian mammals has never been subject to a robust statistical analysis. Using a combination of randomization tests and phylogenetic comparative analyses, we found that Australian mammal extinctions and declines have been nonrandom with respect to body size, but we reject the hypothesis of a critical weight range at intermediate sizes. Small species appear to be the least prone to extinction, but extinctions have not been significantly clustered around intermediate sizes. Our results suggest that hypotheses linking intermediate body size with high risk of extinction in Australian mammals are misguided and that the focus of future research should shift to explaining why the smallest species are the most resistant to extinction.

Journal

Conservation BiologyWiley

Published: Oct 20, 2001

References

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