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Researching The Decline Of Shorebirds And Their Risk Of Extinction

718 words - 3 pages

Policy- and decision-makers claim information about the causes of population declines which drive species on the brink of extinction. However, it is pointed out that the causes of vulnerability remain unclear to explain the variation to the risk of extinction. According to Reynolds (2003), vulnerability is determinate by both the decline of species population and the reduction of their geographical range. These two forms of vulnerability are affected by species intrinsic biological traits, extrinsic human induced effects and adverse factors. These drivers of vulnerability have been the main targets of recently studies to explain the causes and processes of extinction.

It is suggested that extinction risk is not distributed by chance between taxa, because closely related species could share intrinsic biological traits which make them more vulnerable to extinction (Bennett & Owen 1997, Gaston & Blackburn 1997, Freckleton et al. 2002). This scenario is used to understand how intrinsic factors could make some species vulnerable to extinction. For instance, species with low rates of fecundity and large body sizes are more susceptible to extinction than the opposite due to their insufficient ability to adapt their life histories in a fluctuating environment. Strong sexual selection is also considerate important, because species with exaggerated traits or sexually dimorphic have higher selection which reduce their genetic variability (Morrow & Pitcher 2003). Finally, migratory species are more susceptible because they should face more risks in breeding and stopover areas than resident species.

On the other hand, it is clear that intrinsic factors by themselves are not explaining the entire extinction phenomenon, because species vulnerability is also linked with the external environment where they live. Therefore, extrinsic hypotheses also have been proposed to reveal population range size and abundances. For instance, human impact is one of the main current causes of habitat loss and mortality of natural populations due to a massive human-population growth. Moreover, It is also thought that the biogeographical region occupied by a species has an effect in their risk of becoming extinct such as species living in islands. Nevertheless, interactions between intrinsic and extrinsic factors may give more details about the extinction process, because some intrinsic characteristic might...

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