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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 247030, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/247030
Research Article

Conservation Status of Marine Biodiversity in Oceania: An Analysis of Marine Species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

1IUCN Species Programme/Conservation International Global Marine Species Assessment, Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
2IUCN Species Programme/Conservation International, Biodiversity Assessment Unit, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
3IUCN Regional Office for Oceania, Suva, Fiji

Received 14 June 2010; Revised 29 September 2010; Accepted 19 October 2010

Academic Editor: Robert J. Toonen

Copyright © 2011 Beth A. Polidoro et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Given the economic and cultural dependence on the marine environment in Oceania and a rapidly expanding human population, many marine species populations are in decline and may be vulnerable to extinction from a number of local and regional threats. IUCN Red List assessments, a widely used system for quantifying threats to species and assessing species extinction risk, have been completed for 1190 marine species in Oceania to date, including all known species of corals, mangroves, seagrasses, sea snakes, marine mammals, sea birds, sea turtles, sharks, and rays present in Oceania, plus all species in five important perciform fish groups. Many of the species in these groups are threatened by the modification or destruction of coastal habitats, overfishing from direct or indirect exploitation, pollution, and other ecological or environmental changes associated with climate change. Spatial analyses of threatened species highlight priority areas for both site- and species-specific conservation action. Although increased knowledge and use of newly available IUCN Red List assessments for marine species can greatly improve conservation priorities for marine species in Oceania, many important fish groups are still in urgent need of assessment.