Spatial Priorities: Key Regions

Species are unequally distributed across the landscape, with diversity generally increasing from the poles toward the equator. Mountain ranges harbour a disproportionate richness of rodents than would be expected based upon their small spatial footprint.
Island ecosystems possess high levels of endemism in small mammal species, due to their long periods of isolation from mainland populations.
Threats are also unequally distributed across the globe.
Threats driven by agricultural expansion differentially affect grasslands and prairies and their respective small mammal communities. Deforestation for timber products and expanding cultivation impact forest specialists, while islands, due to their small area, are heavily impacted by all human activities. Islands are home to many endemic species and are often places with high numbers of globally threatened species. Many have experienced recent extinctions. Our Key Regions are those regions of the world that are home to globally important aggregations of threatened small mammals.
Using the IUCN Red List data, we have conducted an analysis of species distribution to pinpoint regions that support high densities and distinct aggregations of globally threatened small mammal species.
These regions are also typically characterized as supporting high numbers of Data Deficient species – in other words species for which we have very little ecological data to assess extinction risk.
We have also identified regions which support species assemblages facing ‘above average’ levels of extinction risk.
Three of our key regions are in Africa (Ethiopia, the Albertine Rift, and Cameroon), six in Asia (peninsular Malaysia, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Borneo, Sri Lanka, and the south-western Ghats), and two in the Americas (Mexico and the Greater Antilles).
Explore the map below to find out more about these globally important regions for small mammal conservation and some of the species that are found there.

Building conservation capacity in key small mammal regions

From these eleven Key Regions, our initial focus is on the following three:

  • Mexico
  • Borneo
  • Ethiopia

In each of our Key Regions, we seek to enable more effective data gathering for Red List assessments, field conservation research and strategic planning. We plan to develop, implement and coordinate a long-term small mammal conservation initiative across each region.
The first step towards achieving this will be to gather the relevant regional experts and conservation professionals to determine the current situation, fill knowledge gaps on species conservation statuses and distributions, prioritize those species in most urgent need of action, and develop plans to improve  the conservation status of small mammals across the region.

Sumatran Islands


Sri Lanka

South Western Ghats

Peninsular Malaysia



Albertine rift



Greater Antilles