Conserving Arctic wildlife will be challenging given the ongoing environmental changes in the region. In addition, there is a lack of fundamental biological information for many Arctic species, including a dearth of knowledge surrounding conservation threats and the risk of extinction. In this study, we gather all available data on research effort and life-history traits to assess the current state of scientific knowledge surrounding 389 Arctic vertebrate species. We also quantify patterns of species evaluation by the IUCN Red List, a global database of conservation risk used to measure success and prioritize resources in many conservation programs. We find that 10% of Arctic vertebrates have been the subject of no peer-reviewed studies during the last 30 years, and that we have little life history knowledge for many species. Arctic marine fishes are especially poorly known with an average of 3.5 (out of six) key life-history traits unknown. In a multivariate analysis, whether an Arctic species had been evaluated by the IUCN Red List was most strongly predicted by research effort and varied among taxonomic groups. In addition, we found that species that have been evaluated by the IUCN Red List continue to receive more research attention than species which have not been evaluated. Protecting all Arctic species may, therefore, require research programs and methods to halt research inertia and shift more attention onto species that are poorly known.
This article is open access. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en_GB.
Cody J.Dey, David J.Yurkowski, RichardSchuster, David S.Shiffman, and Sarah JoyBittick. Patterns of uncertainty in life-history and extinction risk for Arctic vertebrates. Arctic Science. 4(4): 710-721. https://doi.org/10.1139/as-2018-0006