Traits of extinction: The conservation of species at risk in British Columbia




Gannon, Kiara

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We are facing a global biodiversity crisis in which extinction is occurring at an unnaturally high rate as a consequence of human activities. Biodiversity loss has profound human consequences, including habitat change and the loss of ecosystem services. In British Columbia (BC), much of the biodiversity and human land-use is concentrated in species at risk hotspots (southern Vancouver Island and the south Okanagan), creating land-use conflicts. Developing a framework of attributes (termed “correlates of extinction”) that predispose species to extinction in the face of disturbance helps us to predict future risks and minimize human impact on biodiversity. This study examines correlates of extinction in two species at risk hotspots in BC by comparing trophic level, longevity, body mass, plant height, and range peripherality of species at risk to not at risk species. We predict that these attributes are distributed non-randomly between species at risk and not at risk species due to their influence on species vulnerability to anthropogenic change. This study will group eight major taxa together to examine the relevance of these correlates of extinction across taxa. By comparing attributes of species at risk and not at risk species collectively in southern Vancouver Island and southern Okanagan, we expect to gain insight into whether correlates of extinction influence species vulnerability in these conservation hotspots regardless of taxa.



Correlates of Extinction, Species at Risk, British Columbia, Peripheral Species