The new edition of the ranking of key protected mammals has been released

According to an improved approach to priority conservation species developed by the Zoological Society of London, the mountain pygmy opossum in Australia, the finger lemur in Madagascar and the Lidbitt opossum in Australia are three mammals that should currently be worked to save. The results of the study were published in PLoS Biology on February 28.


Australia’s mountain pygmy opossum is listed as a protected mammal. Photo by Jason Edwards/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY/Getty Images


Madagascar’s finger lemur ranks second on the EDGE2 list. Image credit: 25ehaag6/iStockphoto/Getty Images

In 2007, researchers at the Zoological Society of London proposed that species should be prioritized based on their uniqueness and how well they are threatened. They developed a method called EDGE, which stands for globally endangered with unique evolutionary significance.

The idea can be understood to mean that it is more important to save different branches of the tree of life than to save different branches on the same branch. Our losses are greater when species without close relatives go extinct than when species with many close relatives go extinct.

Rikki Gumbs of the Zoological Society of London believes that EDGE’s approach has been quite successful. For example, in 2018, the EDGE list of reptiles highlighted the uniqueness of Australian sea turtles, which noted that the Australian Mary River turtle diverged from other living species 40 million years ago, prompting more steps to protect them.

But there are some issues with EDGE. For example, so little is currently known about certain species that biologists often have to guess when trying to calculate the EDGE score. Gumbs believes that if a species has a closely relative who is highly endangered, its protection level should be prioritized over other close relatives who are not endangered.

So the Gumbs team developed an improved version of EDGE2, which better takes into account uncertainty and factors such as the degree of endangerment of close relatives, and has initial applications in mammals.

EDGE2 does not have much impact on the top 100 endangered species, and although in a different order, it still includes 97 identical species. In the 2007 EDGE mammal list, the mountain pygmy opossum, finger lemur and Lidbitt possum ranked 28th, 16th, and 54th respectively, while the EDGE2 ranking change was partly due to changes in knowledge of the species rather than improvements in technology.

EDGE2’s ranking really makes a big difference. According to Gumbs, 40% of the species previously identified as EDGE are no longer so. Previously, the white-sided dolphin topped the EDGE list, and now it is thought to be extinct. (Source: China Science News Xin Yu)

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