Tue. Mar 9th, 2021

Pangolins, orchids and chameleons — these are just a few species that are regularly traded in local and international wildlife markets, contributing to a global industry worth billions of dollars each year. But what is the wildlife trade’s impact on terrestrial biodiversity? A new study probes this very question. The study, published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution, found that, overall, illegal and legal wildlife trade contributed to a 61.6% decrease in species abundance. Endangered species suffered an even sharper decline of 81% due to trade. “Thousands of species are traded for pets, traditional medicines, and luxury foods, but how this impacts species’ abundances in the wild was unknown,” co-author David Edwards, professor of conservation science at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., said in a statement. “Our research draws together high-quality field studies to reveal a shocking reduction in most traded species, driving many locally extinct.” Pangolin at a rescue center in Cambodia. Image by Rhett A. Butler. Most studies on the wildlife trade tend to focus on market trends, rather than species abundance within their habitats, lead author Oscar Morton, a doctoral candidate at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, told Mongabay. But for the context of this study, the researchers chose to only look at studies that “compared the abundance of species in habitats under extractive pressure and those not under extractive pressure,” he said. “They typically involved researchers at the sites setting up transects and counting the number of individuals…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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