The cone snails of Cape Verde: marine endemism at a terrestrial scale: marine endemism at a terrestrial scale

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Cape Verde in the Eastern Atlantic is typical of many island groups in supporting a wealth of endemic species both terrestrial and marine. Marine gastropod molluscs of the genus Conus, commonly known as cone snails, occur in coastal tropical waters throughout the globe, but in Cape Verde their endemism reaches its apogee with 53 out of 56 species occurring nowhere else, the majority of which are restricted to single islands and frequently to single bays. However, Cape Verde is rapidly moving to a tourism-based economy with a projected boom in infrastructure development often coincidental with the shallow-water habitat of many range-restricted Conus. The conservation assessment of Conus to standards of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species, found that 45.3% of 53 species assessed from Cape Verde are threatened or near-threatened with extinction compared to 7.4% of 579 species in the rest of the world. The only three Conus species globally assessed as Critically Endangered and on the cusp of extinction are all endemic to Cape Verde. Our analysis of Conus species distribution, together with spatial data of coastal protected areas and tourism development zones, identify important areas for future research and new marine protection. Our findings show that endemism with its associated risks for Conus in Cape Verde has worldwide parallels with many non-marine taxa, while our proposed strategy for Conus conservation extends beyond the confines of the country and this taxonomic group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-213
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Early online date25 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jul 2016

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