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Chemical antipredator defence is linked to higher extinction risk [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : conservation status, antipredator mechanisms, evolutionary ecology, biodiversity, phylogenetic comparative methods

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Many attributes of species may be linked to contemporary extinction risk, though some such traits remain untested despite suggestions that they may be important. Here, I test whether a trait associated with higher background extinction rates, chemical antipredator defence, is also associated with current extinction risk, using amphibians as a model system—a group facing global population declines. I find that chemically defended species are approximately 60% more likely to be threatened than species without chemical defence, although the severity of the contemporary extinction risk may not relate to chemical defence. The results confirm that background and contemporary extinction rates can be predicted from the same traits, at least in certain cases. This suggests that associations between extinction risk and phenotypic traits can be temporally stable over long periods. The results also provide novel insights into the relevance of antipredator defences for species subject to conservation concerns.

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