The global distribution of tetrapods reveals a need for targeted reptile conservation

Uri Roll, Anat Feldman, Maria Novosolov, Allen Allison, Aaron M. Bauer, Rodolphe Bernard, Monika Böhm, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Ben Collen, Guarino R. Colli, Lital Dabool, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Yuval Itescu, Fred Kraus, Matthew Lebreton, Amir LewinMarcio Martins, Erez Maza, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano De C. Nogueira, Olivier S.G. Pauwels, Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, Gary D. Powney, Roberto Sindaco, Oliver J.S. Tallowin, Omar Torres-Carvajal, Jean François Trape, Enav Vidan, Peter Uetz, Philipp Wagner, Yuezhao Wang, C. David L. Orme, Richard Grenyer, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The distributions of amphibians, birds and mammals have underpinned global and local conservation priorities, and have been fundamental to our understanding of the determinants of global biodiversity. In contrast, the global distributions of reptiles, representing a third of terrestrial vertebrate diversity, have been unavailable. This prevented the incorporation of reptiles into conservation planning and biased our understanding of the underlying processes governing global vertebrate biodiversity. Here, we present and analyse the global distribution of 10,064 reptile species (99% of extant terrestrial species). We show that richness patterns of the other three tetrapod classes are good spatial surrogates for species richness of all reptiles combined and of snakes, but characterize diversity patterns of lizards and turtles poorly. Hotspots of total and endemic lizard richness overlap very little with those of other taxa. Moreover, existing protected areas, sites of biodiversity significance and global conservation schemes represent birds and mammals better than reptiles. We show that additional conservation actions are needed to effectively protect reptiles, particularly lizards and turtles. Adding reptile knowledge to a global complementarity conservation priority scheme identifies many locations that consequently become important. Notably, investing resources in some of the world's arid, grassland and savannah habitats might be necessary to represent all terrestrial vertebrates efficiently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1677-1682
Number of pages6
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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