Launch of the Global Mammal Assessment and Partnership

07 March 2002 | News story

Gland, Switzerland, 07.03.02. IUCN-The World Conservation Union. In an effort to develop new ideas on biodiversity assessment, using mammals as a test case, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) has joined forces with several other conservation organisations to form a Global Mammal Assessment and Partnership.

Mammals have long been a focus of high-profile conservation efforts. Yet historically, the focus has generally been on a relatively small number of larger species, and mammals as a whole have not been used to their full potential in establishing biodiversity conservation priorities.

To address this, the SSC is developing a Global Mammal Assessment (GMA). The GMA will review the status of all species of mammals (over 5,000 described species), focusing on mapping geographic distributions, assessing the degree of threat, and recording essential habitats and important threats for each species. The data obtained will be analysed to determine the extent to which they can be used to support a new generation of biodiversity assessments that move beyond the existing challenges.

In addition to playing a key role in guiding a new generation of biodiversity assessments, the Global Mammal Assessment will also provide important information in its own right. This will include an updated and comprehensive evaluation of the status of mammals, and a comparison of conservation needs, trends and priorities between mammals, birds (using BirdLife International's Important Bird Areas and Endemic Bird Areas), and amphibians (using the Global Amphibian Assessment being implemented by IUCN/SSC, Conservation International's Center for Applied Biodiversity Science CI-CABS, and NatureServe).

The GMA also contributes to an initiative involving several conservation organisations (CI-CABS, IUCN/SSC, NatureServe, BirdLife and WWF) to map the distributions of all terrestrial vertebrate species (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) by the end of 2004. A number of mammal data initiatives have emerged among various organisations and a partial overlap across some of these initiatives has called for interaction between them.

In light of this, a meeting of representatives of the major initiatives was held at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, USA, recently to discuss the possibility of forming a partnership of institutions/projects for the Global Mammal Assessment, and the identification of information gaps and needs for GMA implementation. The meeting resulted in the creation of a Global Mammal Partnership comprising IUCN-SSC, the University of Virginia, Institute of Applied Ecology/University of Rome-Italy, NatureServe, Conservation International/CABS, WWF, Institute of Zoology-ZSL/Imperial College-UK, Smithsonian Institution, and Bat Conservation International.

Information and maps compiled by the SSC and the various partner initiatives will be kept in a database as part of SSC's Species Information Service and sent to appropriate SSC Specialist Groups and other experts for validation. As the data gathered will be kept within the SIS, the project will help jump-start data-acquisition capabilities for the mammal-related Specialist Groups.

For more information, contact Mariano Gimenez Dixon at mgd@iucn.org