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IUCN Red List protects avian genetic diversity

Cite this dataset

Canteri, Elisabetta et al. (2021). IUCN Red List protects avian genetic diversity [Dataset]. Dryad.


Despite well-established links between low genetic diversity and extinction processes, intra-specific genetic diversity is rarely considered in global conservation assessments, potentially leading to biased estimates of species’ extinction risk. We show that birds ranked as “threatened” by the IUCN Red List have lower intra-specific genetic diversity than “non-threatened” species, confirming that threat criteria, used by the IUCN, effectively protect genetically depleted species. However, some “non-threatened” species harbour low levels of genetic diversity, indicating an undetected vulnerability to global change. Global conservation assessments will benefit from explicitly integrating relevant genetic and genomic diversity-based measures in estimates of species’ extinction risk.


The dataset contains a table with information about all the cytochrome-b (mtDNA) sequences of birds available in GenBank, corrected sequences alignments for each species and the code necessary to analyse the data.

Usage notes

The file contains a detailed explanation of each file and variable in the dataset, including units. Information regarding the method used for the analyses can be found in the associated manuscript referenced above.