The CREO Research Program
CREO was developed because accurate extinction surveys are urgently needed.
A precise system for surveying extinctions empirically is required so that assessments of biodiversity loss are both reliable and of greatest applied value for further research. Unreliable data, or data that cannot be easily associated with substantiating evidence, attract criticism and result in a loss of confidence from the public and from political bodies (Mann, 1991; Kottelat, 1994; Simon, 1996; Simon and Wildavsky, 1995). This can have a detrimental effect on conservation measures, including lack of support and funding.
The CREO research program is designed to streamline the process of documenting existing extinction data, and provide a better system for interpreting those data -- resulting in accurate, comprehensive extinction surveys. Survey data will be made available to scientists, conservation organizations, policy makers, and the general public via publications and databases.
Currently, no comparable efforts are being made to compile and evaluate data on extinct species as thoroughly as the CREO research program. Yet, without the rigorous documentation methodology proposed here, we will not have reliable data that can be used in a number of important conservation applications.
This research program was developed in order to improve the quality and quantity of extinct species data, particularly because existing global surveys of recent extinctions are prone to error (see Why was CREO Developed? for more information). Our approach is significantly different from existing approaches to inventorying extinctions. Specifically, we recognize:
The CREO program will focus on the documentation of global extinctions during the modern era, taking AD 1500 as the minimum earliest starting date for this documentation. Extinctions after AD 1500 represent those most pertinent to current biodiversity issues. This date also marks a time when recorded evidence for the loss of species in association with human movement and activities became more common. However, there may be cases of earlier extinctions that are relevant to the evaluation of current patterns and processes of extinction, and these events will also be evaluated (e.g. extinctions associated with Polynesian expansion 1000 to 4000 years ago; Pimm et al., 1994, 1995; Steadman, 1995; Diamond, 1997).
In order to evaluate rates and comparisons of loss across taxa, coverage will include all species in Animalia and Plantae for which recent extinctions can be feasibly determined. Evaluation of other kingdoms will take place where pertinent information exists.
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