Global priority areas to protect mammals mapped

Scientists have mapped priority areas around the world, including parts of India, to protect thousands of mammal species, with a focus on species with few close relatives. A study led by researchers at Australian National University (ANU) used maps of about 4,700 land mammals habitats, and information on how species are related to each other, to identify important places across the world for protecting the worlds mammal diversity.

The study identified the top places in every continent, including parts of coastal Queensland, Australian deserts near Alice Springs, Sumatra and Java, Madagascar, India, China and Spain. Habitat loss is a major threat to the worlds mammal species – over 1,000 mammal species are already threatened. Scientists have often focused on the number of species in a protected area, but studies like this one consider the degree to which the family tree of life is well represented.

This is the first time that anyone has mapped these priority areas for conserving the diversity of mammal evolution along with minimum target areas for habitat protection. People are already working on these challenges, but by using this cutting-edge genetic information we can make far better decisions, protecting up to 32 per cent more of the diversity of the mammal tree of life through better use of limited resources.

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