Threat mapping is a necessary tool for identifying and abating direct threats to species in the ongoing extinction crisis. There are known gaps in the threat mapping literature for particular threats and geographic locations, and it remains unclear if the distribution of research effort is appropriately targeted relative to conservation need. Here, we aim to understand the drivers of threat mapping research effort and to quantify gaps that, if filled, could inform actions with the highest potential to reduce species’ extinction risk. We used a negative binomial generalised linear model to analyse research effort as a function of threat abatement potential (quantified as the potential reduction in species extinction risk from abating threats), species richness, land area and human pressure. We found that more threat mapping research was performed on combinations of country and threat with higher threat abatement potential. However, the model determined that species richness and land area were stronger predictors of research effort overall. The greatest areas of mismatch between research effort and threat abatement potential were found on the threat to species of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Biological Resource Use across the tropical regions of the Americas, Asia, and Madagascar. Conversely, the threat of Linear Infrastructure (e.g. road/rail) across regions, the threat of Biological Resource Use (e.g. hunting/collection) in sub-Saharan Africa, and North American and European regions across threats all received disproportionately high research effort. We discuss the methodological and socio-political factors that may be behind the gaps and biases we found, and urge a stronger emphasis on targeting research effort towards those threats and geographic locations where threat abatement activities could make the greatest contribution to reducing global species extinction risk.
|Accepted/In press - 31 Jan 2024