Pangolins, orchids and chameleons — these are just a few species that are regularly traded in local and international wildlife markets, contributing to a global industry worth billions of dollars each year. But what is the wildlife trade’s impact on terrestrial biodiversity? A new study probes this very question.
The study, published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution, found that, overall, illegal and legal wildlife trade contributed to a 61.6% decrease in species abundance. Endangered species suffered an even sharper decline of 81% due to trade.
“Thousands of species are traded for pets, traditional medicines, and luxury foods, but how this impacts species’ abundances in the wild was unknown,” co-author David Edwards, professor of conservation science at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., said in a statement. “Our research draws together high-quality field studies to reveal a shocking reduction in most traded species, driving many locally extinct.”