Extended study reveals why are parrots one of the most threatened avian orders

February 10th, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Extended study reveals why are parrots one of the most threatened avian orders
Conservation projects
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An international research team published a paper which contains alarming data on parrot conservation. It’s been well known that parrots represent one of the most threatened bird orders. From the order Psittaciformes 111 species (28%) are classified as threatened according to IUCN statistics which means that they fall to one of three risk categories – “critically endangered”, “endangered” or “vulnerable”. The rest of 287 is considered to be as “near threatened” or “least concern”. This study is a key document to show what causes stay behind the decline of parrot populations. Most of previous papers informed about unfavourable trends in parrot conservation. However, none of them analysed this issue in broad terms.

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What factors affect the parrot extinction risk?

Results of the study describe several biological atributes which may affect species susceptibility to extinction. First of them is the body size – bigger parrots are more likely to become threatened than smaller ones. Other aspects which increase extinction risk are – forest dependence, habitat specialization, small geographical distribution, low population density, slow reproductive rate and long generation length.

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Anthropogenic factors influence decline in parrot populations significantly. Most important threats are agriculture, logging, poaching, trapping and human population densities. Surprisingly, extenction risk in parrot species doesn’t correlate to the their number kept as pets. Mostly people use non-threatened species as pets.

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Australia is a country of the third highest priority for parrot conservation

Authors also published a list of countries of highest priority for parrot conservation. Surprisingly, Australia is listed as the third following first Indonesia and second Brazil. It is the only developed country ranked within the first ten of this list. These findings are alarming and should lead to change of Australian long-term  conservation strategies.

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The study led by George Olah from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society was published in Biodiversity and Conservation.

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A table from published paper “Ecological and socio-economic factors affecting extinction risk in parrots” (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-015-1036-z)

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Title photo: (c) Ingrid Taylar This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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