What factors influence the rediscovery of lost tetrapod species?

Tim Lindken, Christopher V. Anderson, Daniel Ariano-Sánchez, Goni Barki, Christina Biggs, Philip Bowles, Ramamoorthi Chaitanya, Drew T. Cronin, Sonja C. Jähnig, Jonathan M. Jeschke, Rosalind J. Kennerley, Thomas E. Lacher, Jennifer A. Luedtke, Chunlong Liu, Barney Long, David Mallon, Gabriel M. Martin, Shai Meiri, Stesha A. Pasachnik, Victor Hugo ReynosoCraig B. Stanford, P. J. Stephenson, Krystal A. Tolley, Omar Torres-Carvajal, David L. Waldien, John C.Z. Woinarski, Thomas Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We created a database of lost and rediscovered tetrapod species, identified patterns in their distribution and factors influencing rediscovery. Tetrapod species are being lost at a faster rate than they are being rediscovered, due to slowing rates of rediscovery for amphibians, birds and mammals, and rapid rates of loss for reptiles. Finding lost species and preventing future losses should therefore be a conservation priority. By comparing the taxonomic and spatial distribution of lost and rediscovered tetrapod species, we have identified regions and taxa with many lost species in comparison to those that have been rediscovered—our results may help to prioritise search effort to find them. By identifying factors that influence rediscovery, we have improved our ability to broadly distinguish the types of species that are likely to be found from those that are not (because they are likely to be extinct). Some lost species, particularly those that are small and perceived to be uncharismatic, may have been neglected in terms of conservation effort, and other lost species may be hard to find due to their intrinsic characteristics and the characteristics of the environments they occupy (e.g. nocturnal species, fossorial species and species occupying habitats that are more difficult to survey such as wetlands). These lost species may genuinely await rediscovery. However, other lost species that possess characteristics associated with rediscovery (e.g. large species) and that are also associated with factors that negatively influence rediscovery (e.g. those occupying small islands) are more likely to be extinct. Our results may foster pragmatic search protocols that prioritise lost species likely to still exist.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberGCB17107
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • IUCN Red List
  • Lazarus species
  • Re:wild
  • conservation biology
  • extinct species
  • lost species
  • missing species
  • rediscovered species

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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