Trait-based prediction of extinction risk across terrestrial taxa

Filipe Chichorro, Fernando Urbano Tenorio, Dinarte Teixeira, Henry Väre, Tiago Pinto, Neil Brummitt, Xiaolan He, Axel Hochkirch, Jaakko Hyvönen, Lauri Kaila, Aino Juslén, Pedro Cardoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Species differ in their biological susceptibility to extinction, but the set of traits determining susceptibility varies across taxa. It is yet unclear which patterns are common to all taxa, and which are taxon-specific, with conse-quences to conservation practice. In this study we analysed the generality of trait-based prediction of extinction risk across terrestrial (including freshwater) vertebrates, invertebrates and plants at a global scale. For each group, we selected five representative taxa and within each group we explored whether risk can be related to any of 10 potential predictors. We then synthesized outcomes across taxa using a meta-analytic approach. High habitat specificity was a consistent predictor across vertebrates, invertebrates and plants, being a universal predictor of risk. Slow life-history traits - large relative offspring size, low fecundity, long generation length -, and narrow altitudinal range were also found to be good predictors across most taxa, but their universality needs to be supported with additional data. Poor dispersal ability was a common predictor of extinction risk among invertebrate and plant taxa, but not consistently among vertebrates. The remaining traits (body size, micro -habitat verticality, trophic level, and diet breadth) were useful to predict extinction risk but only at lower tax-onomical levels. Our study shows that despite the idiosyncrasies among taxa, universal susceptibility to extinction exists and several traits might influence extinction risk for most taxa. Informing conservation prior-itization at lower taxonomic scales should however include taxon-specific trait-based predictors of extinction risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109738
JournalBiological Conservation
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • Biological traits
  • Conservation biology
  • IUCN
  • Threat status

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