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Pragmatic population viability targets in a rapidly changing world


Traill, LW and Brook, BW and Frankham, RR and Bradshaw, CJA, Pragmatic population viability targets in a rapidly changing world, Biological Conservation, 143, (1) pp. 28-34. ISSN 0006-3207 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.09.001


To ensure both long-term persistence and evolutionary potential, the required number of individuals in a population often greatly exceeds the targets proposed by conservation management. We critically review minimum population size requirements for species based on empirical and theoretical estimates made over the past few decades. This literature collectively shows that thousands (not hundreds) of individuals are required for a population to have an acceptable probability of riding-out environmental fluctuation and catastrophic events, and ensuring the continuation of evolutionary processes. The evidence is clear, yet conservation policy does not appear to reflect these findings, with pragmatic concerns on feasibility over-riding biological risk assessment. As such, we argue that conservation biology faces a dilemma akin to those working on the physical basis of climate change, where scientific recommendations on carbon emission reductions are compromised by policy makers. There is no obvious resolution other than a more explicit acceptance of the trade-offs implied when population viability requirements are ignored. We recommend that conservation planners include demographic and genetic thresholds in their assessments, and recognise implicit triage where these are not met.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:census N, ecological triage, effective population size, global change, minimum viable population, threatened species
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Population ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:116065
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:181
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-05-01
Last Modified:2017-09-14

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