To assess the extent of threatened plant and animal species distributions, and thus, the currently under-utilised opportunity for national biodiversity conservation, within Australian cities.
Type of Study:
Research paper (mapped species distribution from online sources and databases).
Of the 1643 threatened species assessed (1215 plants and 428 animals) 30% had distributions that intersected with cities. The distribution of eight threatened species (all plants) entirely overlapped with cities. Cities on average held more threatened species per unit area than non-urban areas. 25% of threatened plants and 46% of threatened animals analysed had distributions intersecting cities. Threatened species richness was higher in coastal areas and around the edges of cities. Ten percent of threatened species found in cities had 30% of their distribution in urban areas. Plants were found in fewer cities (mean = 1.95 ± 2.34 SD) than animals (mean = 12.57 ± 16.63 SD), but had a larger percentage of their distribution overlapping with cities (plant mean = 0.16 ± 0.26 SD, animal mean = 0.04 ± 0.08 SD). From 99 cities, 89% held threatened plant species or appropriate habitat and for both threatened plants and animals, cities overlapped with their distributions more so than all other non-urban areas. On average cities contained 32 threatened species. Sydney contained the most threatened species (124), but few large cities contained high diversities of threatened species—only 12% of cities had more than 10 threatened plant species.
Ives C. D., Lentini P. E., Threlfall C. G. et al. (2016) Cities are hotspots for threatened species. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 25, 117-126.