The Future of Mammals in Southeast Asia: Conservation Insights from the Fossil Record Paleontology in Ecology and Conservation
Paleontology in ecology and conservation
Berlin Heidelberg, Germany
Earth and Environmental Science
The Pleistocene zoogeographic history of Southeast Asian megafauna are examined in order to determine if any patterns of extinction vulnerability can be discerned, and if so determine which extant megafauna species may be in need of heightened conservation effort. Sites in Southeast Asia were examined for three time periods: Early, Middle and Late Pleistocene, and compared with modern distribution patterns. Taxa were divided into one of four conservation statuses: extinct, critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable. One pattern clearly observable for the species in the extinct and critically endangered categories was a widespread distribution throughout the Pleistocene, only to suffer extreme range reductions or extinctions between the Late Pleistocene and today. At least three species in the endangered category display similar distribution patterns: the giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ), the tiger ( Panthera tigris ) and the Malayan tapir ( Tapirus indicus ). Although the panda, and to a more limited extent the tiger are well recognised as conservation priorities, this is less true for the tapir. If the zoogeographic patterns observed for extinct or critically endangered species are any guide, the outlook for the panda, tiger, and tapir, independent of stepped-up conservation efforts, are bleak.