Nav: Home

Should you share data of threatened species?

July 23, 2018

Scientists publishing locations of rare species have been blamed for helping poachers drive them to extinction, such as the local extinction of the Chinese cave gecko.

But an international group of scientists lead by Dr Ayesha Tulloch from the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland believes that data publishing is important to help many species.

"Species, like Australia's tiny grassland earless dragon, have received greater environmental protection because published data was available to show that they were in trouble," said Dr Tulloch.

"The challenge is to share data in a way that avoids perverse outcomes such as local species extinctions from human exploitation.

"It is undeniable that in some cases, poachers have used published data to hunt down rare animals for the illegal wildlife trade.

"And even well-meaning people like bird watchers and sight seers can sometimes do damage when enough of them trample a patch of habitat."

"Which is why scientists and conservationists have continually called on location data to be turned off in nature photos to help preserve species."

"But stopping all data publishing is not the answer. Data publishing has also led to improved protection and conservation for many species.

"Good data helps conservation managers know where action is needed."

Dr Tulloch - whose affiliations include The Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environmental Science Program; and the Desert Ecology Research Group - said sharing data takes a balanced approach.

To address the challenge Dr Tulloch collaborated with scientists from nine organisations to design a framework that helps researchers and conservationists choose how to share sensitive data.

"A key aspect is identifying whether poaching, illegal trade or disturbance from eager spectators really poses a real threat which can't be managed.

"Then there are a number of ways you can deal with that data, such as only showing locations in 100km grid squares, that could allow it to be published without putting those species at risk.

"The sharing of species information is here to stay," said Dr Tulloch.

"Being clear about the pros and cons of making the data public will ensure that species are not put in more danger from new data being out in the public domain."

The authors of this paper are from the University of Queensland, Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Sydney, Birdlife Australia, the University of Kansas, CSIRO, Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network at the University of Adelaide, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and the Australian Museum.
-end-


University of Sydney

Related Conservation Articles:

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.
New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.
Conservation's hidden costs take bite out of benefits
Scientists show that even popular conservation programs can harbor hidden costs, often for vulnerable populations.
Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.
Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.
Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.
Making conservation 'contagious'
New research reveals conservation initiatives often spread like disease, a fact which can help scientists and policymakers design programs more likely to be taken up.
Helping conservation initiatives turn contagious
New research shows that conservation initiatives go viral, which helps scientists and policymakers better design successful programs more likely to be adopted.
Overturning the truth on conservation tillage
Conservation tillage does not lower yield in modern cropping systems.
Talking to each other -- how forest conservation can succeed
Forest conservation can be a source of tension between competing priorities and interests from forestry, science, administration and nature conservation organizations.
More Conservation News and Conservation Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.