Historical data as a baseline for conservation: reconstructing long-term faunal extinction dynamics in Late Imperial –modern China

Extinction events typically represent extended processes of decline that cannot be reconstructed using short-term studies. Long-term archives are necessary to determine past baselines and the extent of human-caused biodiversity change, but the capacity of historical datasets to provide predictive power for conservation must be assessed within a robust analytical framework. Local Chinese gazetteers represent a more than 400-year country-level dataset containing abundant information on past environmental conditions and include extensive records of gibbons, which have a restricted present-day distribution but formerly occurred across much of China.

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