Threats to reptiles at global and regional scales

Reptiles are an important, yet often understudied, taxon in nature conservation. They play a significant role in ecosystems1 and can serve as indicators of environmental health, often responding more rapidly to human pressures than other vertebrate groups.2 At least 21% of reptiles are currently assessed as threatened with extinction by the IUCN.3 However, due to the lack of comprehensive global assessments until recently, they have been omitted from spatial studies addressing conservation or spatial prioritization (e.g., Rosauer et al.,4,5,6,7,8 Fritz and Rahbek,4,5,6,7,8 Farooq et al.,4,5,6,7,8 Meyer et al., 4,5,6,7,8 and Farooq et al.4,5,6,7,8). One important knowledge gap in conservation is the lack of spatially explicit information on the main threats to biodiversity,9 which significantly hampers our ability to respond effectively to the current biodiversity crisis.10,11 In this study, we calculate the probability of a reptile species in a specific location being affected by one of seven biodiversity threats—agriculture, climate change, hunting, invasive species, logging, pollution, and urbanization. We conducted the analysis at a global scale, using a 50 km × 50 km grid, and evaluated the impact of these threats by studying their relationship with the risk of extinction. We find that climate change, logging, pollution, and invasive species are most linked to extinction risk. However, we also show that there is considerable geographical variation in these results. Our study highlights the importance of going beyond measuring the intensity of threats to measuring the impact of these separately for various biogeographical regions of the world, with different historical contingencies, as opposed to a single global analysis treating all regions the same.