Threats to vertebrate species in China and the United States

Li Yiming, David S. Wilcove

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


We analyzed the threats to imperiled vertebrate species in China and compared our results with those from a similar study conducted in the United States. Overexploitation is the most pervasive threat to Chinese vertebrates, contributing to the endangerment of 78% of imperiled species, followed by habitat destruction (70%), pollution (20%), alien species (3%), and disease (< 1%). Harvest for food and use in traditional Chinese medicines are the two main forms of overexploitation, while logging is the most pervasive form of habitat destruction. Threats to vertebrate species are strikingly different in the United States, where habitat destruction affects 92% of imperiled vertebrate species, followed by alien species (47%), pollution (46%), overexploitation (27%), and disease (11%). The greater frequency of overexploitation in China stems from China's larger, poorer, and more rural population, along with widespread trade in wildlife products. The apparent lower frequency of alien species in China may reflect neglect of this issue by Chinese scientists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Alien species
  • Endangered species
  • Habitat destruction
  • Overexploitation
  • Vertebrate species


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