Habitat loss estimation for assessing terrestrial mammalian species extinction risk: an open data framework

PeerJ. 2022 Dec 12:10:e14289. doi: 10.7717/peerj.14289. eCollection 2022.


Terrestrial mammals face a severe crisis of habitat loss worldwide. Therefore, assessing information on habitat loss throughout different time periods is crucial for assessing species' conservation statuses based on the IUCN Red List system. To support the national extinction risk assessment in Brazil (2016-2022), we developed a script that uses the MapBiomas Project 6.0 data source of land cover and land use (annual maps at 30 m scale) within the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform to calculate habitat loss. We defined suitable habitats from the MapBiomas Project land cover classification for 190 mammalian taxa, according to each species range map and ecological characteristics. We considered a period of three generation lengths to assess habitat loss in accordance with the Red List assessment criteria. We used the script to estimate changes in available habitat throughout the analyzed period within the species' known ranges. The results indicated that habitat loss occurred within 94.3% of the analyzed taxa range, with the Carnivora order suffering the greatest habitat loss, followed by the Cingulata order. These analyses may be decisive for applying criteria, defining categories during the assessment of at least 17 species (9%), enriching discussions, and raising new questions for several other species. We considered the outcome of estimating habitat loss for various taxa when applying criterion A, which refers to population reduction, thus supporting more accurate inferences about past population declines.

Keywords: Deforestation; Google Earth Engine; Habitat change; IUCN redlist; Mammalia; Threatened species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem
  • Extinction, Biological*
  • Mammals

Grants and funding

The Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) supported the personnel and infrastructure to develop this project. Paloma M Santos received a research scholarship from ICMBio and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development—CNPq (Grant Numbers 350057/2020-6) and from Programa de Capacitação InstitucionalPCI/INMA (Grant Numbers 317795/2021-0; 300893/2022-1) and Gabriela Ludwig from ICMBio, Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa—FUNAPE (Grant Number 6774) and CNPq (350404/2018-6). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.