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Title: Cone snails : a significant biomedical resource at risk
Author: Peters, Howard
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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Gastropod molluscs of the genus Conus (cone snails) occur throughout the world’s tropical coastal waters where they capture their prey of fish, molluscs or worms using a complex battery of neurotoxins. Although these toxins are of major importance to biomedical science, the conservation status of Conus has been largely ignored. I assessed 632 species of Conus to the standards of IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This revealed 10.6% of species globally are either threatened or near threatened with extinction, with a further 13.8% data deficient but with indicators that suggest substantial cause for concern. Hotspots of endemism, particularly along the Eastern Atlantic found 42.9% of 98 species there at risk. This includes Cape Verde where 53 of 56 species are endemic and mostly restricted to single islands, and where all three critically endangered and four of eleven globally endangered species occur. The rapid transition of the Cape Verdean economy from services to tourism was found to have placed many Conus species at risk from habitat disturbance and marine pollution. Although the Red List yields valuable data, it is primarily focussed on species nearing extinction. However, many wide-ranging species, exposed to considerable anthropogenic impacts, may, through remoteness and/or depth, remain unnoticed and unrecorded for years, invisible to the Red List as their populations decline. To identify such species I explored the overlap of Conus with biogeographic data of human impacts and future threats from ocean acidification and thermal stress. This revealed a further 67 species occurring in high impact zones deserving further status consideration, and pinpointed regions with high concentrations of endemic taxa under potential threat. This reinforced the benefits of approaching threat assessment from a holistic standpoint in addition to the forensic scrutiny offered by the Red List, allowing proactive conservation management to complement its traditional reactive role.
Supervisor: Roberts, Callum ; Hawkins, Julie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available