Nori, J., Cordier, J.M., Osorio-Olivera, L., & Hortal, J. (2023) Global knowledge gaps of herptile responses to land transformation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, doi:10.1002/fee.2625

Understanding how species respond to land transformation is an essential step toward the development of effective conservation policies. This is especially urgent in deforestation hotspots, and for those groups particularly sensitive to changes in land cover. However, the scarcity of data on population trends is among the most pervasive shortfalls in biodiversity knowledge, hampering the design of effective conservation. This deficiency is commonly addressed by comparing population sizes between natural and transformed land-cover types. Here we mapped the global knowledge (and knowledge gaps) about changes in the abundance of amphibian and reptile populations in natural and transformed land cover, with an emphasis on deforestation hotspots. Notably, our results show that there is scant information even about this proxy of population trends. On average, data are absent for 75% of amphibians and 83% of reptiles within each grid cell worldwide. Moreover, such information is extremely rare for deforestation fronts, and that which does exist comes from populations external to these areas. Strategic investment to fill these data gaps, especially in deforestation hotspots, is a crucial step to guide conservation policy making.