Reptiles are on track to being recognised as the most diverse group of terrestrial vertebrates (10,270 as of August 2015), yet unlike the relatively well-known bird and mammal faunas, our grasp on their conservation status and key threatening processes is rudimentary.
This is exemplified by that fact that the first ‘comprehensive’ global analysis of the conservation status of reptiles (Böhm et al., 2013, Biological Conservation), was only able to consider 1,500 randomly selected species (and many of those were classified as ‘Data Deficient’). A key challenge is to not only obtain rapid and accurate assessments of threat status for the majority of reptiles (i.e. non-assessed or data deficient species), but also to identify and act to mitigate the key drivers of extinction risk for Reptiles. Many reptiles are data deficient consequently likely to be highly threatened, and unmanaged.
Oceania hosts unique reptile diversity, including uniquely adapted taxa like the wonderful cold adapted geckos of New Zealand (Southern Alps Gecko below). Australia is a global centre of reptile endemicity, home to ~10% of global reptile diversity, Many of Oceania’s reptiles inhabit islands, and face accelerating threatening processes.This week at #SCBO2016, I am privileged to be hosting a world class group of reptile researchers to discuss emerging science and challenges for reptile assessment and conservation.
The symposium includes a mix of Australian and global research, and will highlight recent advances in extinction risk modelling and reptile conservation, key knowledge gaps, and some potential solutions. We also hope that this will catalyse discussion on how we can overcome some key challenges for assessing threat status and dealing with data deficiency, and I invite conference participants to engage in a facilitated discussion.
Stay tuned for live tweets – #SCBO2016 #AdvRepCons and a post session update!
I’ll also be live tweeting the conference – @ultimatemegs if you want to keep up to date and can’t be here #SCBO2016