Macroecology and extinction risk correlates of frogs

Authors

  • Natalie Cooper,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK,
    2. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY, UK,
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  • Jon Bielby,

    1. Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK,
    2. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY, UK,
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  • Gavin H. Thomas,

    1. NERC Centre for Population Biology, Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK
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  • Andy Purvis

    1. Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK,
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*Correspondence: Natalie Cooper, Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK. E-mail: natalie.cooper04@imperial.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Aim  Our aim was to test whether extinction risk of frog species could be predicted from their body size, fecundity or geographical range size. Because small geographical range size is a correlate of extinction risk in many taxa, we also tested hypotheses about correlates of range size in frogs.

Location  Global.

Methods  Using a large comparative data set (n = 527 species) compiled from the literature, we performed bivariate and multiple regressions through the origin of independent contrasts to test proposed macroecological patterns and correlates of extinction risk in frogs. We also created minimum adequate models to predict snout–vent length, clutch size, geographical range size and IUCN Red List status in frogs. Parallel non-phylogenetic analyses were also conducted. We verified the results of the phylogenetic analyses using gridded data accounting for spatial autocorrelation.

Results  The most threatened frog species tend to have small geographical ranges, although the relationship between range and extinction risk is not linear. In addition, tropical frogs with small clutches have the smallest ranges. Clutch size was strongly positively correlated with geographical range size (r2 = 0.22) and body size (r2 = 0.28).

Main conclusions  Our results suggest that body size and fecundity only affect extinction risk indirectly through their effect on geographical range size. Thus, although large frogs with small clutches tend to be endangered, there is no comparative evidence that this relationship is direct. If correct, this inference has consequences for conservation strategy: it would be inefficient to allocate conservation resources on the basis of low fecundity or large body size; instead it would be better to protect areas that contain many frog species with small geographical ranges.

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