Threat mapping is a necessary tool for identifying and abating direct threats to species in the ongoing extinction crisis. There are known gaps in the threat mapping literature for particular threats and geographic locations, and it remains unclear if the distribution of research effort is appropriately targeted relative to conservation need. We aimed to determine the drivers of threat mapping research effort and to quantify gaps that, if filled, could inform actions with the highest potential to reduce species' extinction risk. We used a negative binomial generalized linear model to analyze research effort as a function of threat abatement potential (quantified as the potential reduction in species extinction risk from abating threats), species richness, land area, and human pressure. The model showed that threat mapping research effort increased by 1.1 to 1.2 times per standardized unit change in threat abatement potential. However, species richness and land area were stronger predictors of research effort overall. The greatest areas of mismatch between research effort and threat abatement potential, receiving disproportionately low research effort, were related to the threats to species of agriculture, aquaculture, and biological resource use across the tropical regions of the Americas, Asia, and Madagascar. Conversely, the threat of linear infrastructure (e.g., roads and rails) across regions, the threat of biological resource use (e.g., hunting or collection) in sub-Saharan Africa, and overall threats in North America and Europe all received disproportionately high research effort. We discuss the range of methodological and sociopolitical factors that may be behind the overall trends and specific areas of mismatch we found. We urge a stronger emphasis on targeting research effort toward those threats and geographic locations where threat abatement activities could make the greatest contribution to reducing global species extinction risk.

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