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Complementarity, completeness and quality of long-term faunal archives in an Asian biodiversity hotspot

Turvey, ST, Walsh, C, Hansford, JP, Crees, JJ, Bielby, J, Duncan, C, Hu, K and Hudson, MA (2019) Complementarity, completeness and quality of long-term faunal archives in an Asian biodiversity hotspot. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 374 (1788). ISSN 0962-8436

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Abstract

Long-term baselines on biodiversity change through time are crucial to inform conservation decision-making in biodiversity hotspots, but environmental archives remain unavailable for many regions. Extensive palaeontological, zooarchaeological and historical records and indigenous knowledge about past environmental conditions exist for China, a megadiverse country experiencing large-scale biodiversity loss, but their potential to understand past human-caused faunal turnover is not fully assessed. We investigate a series of complementary environmental archives to evaluate the quality of the Holocene–historical faunal record of Hainan Island, China's southernmost province, for establishing new baselines on postglacial mammalian diversity and extinction dynamics. Synthesis of multiple archives provides an integrated model of long-term biodiversity change, revealing that Hainan has experienced protracted and ongoing human-caused depletion of its mammal fauna from prehistory to the present, and that past baselines can inform practical conservation management. However, China's Holocene–historical archives exhibit substantial incompleteness and bias at regional and country-wide scales, with limited taxonomic representation especially for small-bodied species, and poor sampling of high-elevation landscapes facing current-day climate change risks. Establishing a clearer understanding of the quality of environmental archives in threatened ecoregions, and their ability to provide a meaningful understanding of the past, is needed to identify future conservation-relevant historical research priorities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: Royal Society, The
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2020 13:25
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2020 13:25
DOI or Identification number: 10.1098/rstb.2019.0217
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14012

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