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About CREO


Why Was CREO Developed?

The CREO project arose following two investigations on recent extinctions in mammals (MacPhee and Flemming, 1999) and freshwater fishes (Harrison and Stiassny, 1999). Both studies set out to review and evaluate all available data on recent extinctions in order to draw conclusions about the patterns, processes, and rates of extinction events.

Studies such as these require accurate lists of extinct species from which to draw data. However, these investigations found that published lists of recently extinct species often contain incorrect or disputed information.

Problems identified with existing extinction surveys include:

--criteria for proof of extinction are often insufficient or imprecise

--data sources are not referenced adequately

--taxonomic information is often incorrect

The two studies on fish and mammal extinctions brought to light a number of improvements that could be implemented to better collect, evaluate, and document extinction data. For example, the studies clearly indicated the importance of having a workable methodology for making thorough and accurate assessments of the numbers of species lost in recent times. This methodology should establish the taxonomic validity of each species evaluated, and all information sources used in the evaluation should be documented. Both studies also indicated the need for publication avenues that are specifically designed for tracking and disseminating information about modern-era extinctions, as it is difficult to locate relevant extinction data in the existing literature.

We have developed a research program that addresses these issues so that extinction data can be better collected, evaluated, and utilized in a variety of conservation applications .


Our Affiliation

The objectives of CREO will be accomplished through the work of scientists from around the world who are being organized into Advisory Panels. The organization of these panels will be coordinated by CREO from our base at the American Museum of Natural History, where we function in collaboration with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC). The mission of the CBC includes the integration of systematic information into the conservation process and the dissemination of this information to local, national, and international audiences to aid the solution of global environmental problems.

Research into the patterns and processes of historical and contemporary extinction events has traditionally been of particular interest to scientists at the American Museum of Natural History. For example, in 1997 the Museum held a symposium (Humans and Other Catastrophes) that focused on Late Pleistocene extinctions. Museum research has focused on direct taxonomic assessments and effects of species losses and how extinction events can be understood in an evolutionary framework.

Thus, CREO was developed in recognition of the value of comprehensive and reliable extinction data for use by researchers in systematics and conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and at other institutions around the world.


Our Staff

CREO is managed and directed by three staff members. In addition, a Steering Committee provides general advice on the implementation of the CREO project, and advice on our day-to-day operations.

 

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