WASHINGTON – From frigid northern Canada and Alaska to tropical Asian islands, lands where wildlife seems safe today may pose some of the greatest extinction dangers in the future.
In particular peril are animals with a relatively small geographic range and those that have a large body mass and reproduce slowly.
Researchers identified regions where they felt there was a high "latent extinction risk" for nonmarine mammals, often areas that have had little human impact so far.
Latent risk is low in parts of the world already heavily populated by people, where species likely to succumb to the pressure have already done so.
The findings are reported in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Latent risk can be thought of as a measure of the potential for a species to decline rapidly toward extinction given exposure to levels of human impact" that have been felt elsewhere, said the team led by Marcel Cardillo of Imperial College in London.
The area with the most potentially endangered species, 284, is Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia, the report said.
Next, with 224 species, is Borneo, followed by New Guinea, 205 species, western Java, 131 species and Sulawesi, 130 species.
Other areas of high threat are Maluku, Indonesia, 99 species; Northern Canada and Alaska, 96 species; Melanesian Islands, 96 species; Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, 86 species; East Indian highlands, 70 species;
Also Eastern Canadian forests, 57 species; Tasmania and Bass Strait, 49 species; Siberian tundra, 35 species; Patagonian Coast of South America, 26 species; Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 20 species;
Plus the Lesser Antilles, 16 species; Indian Ocean islands, 10 species; Greenland, 9 species; Bahamas, 8 species and Southern Polynesia, 3 species.