Making decisions to conserve species under climate change

Shoo, L.P., Hoffmann, A.A., Garnett, S., Pressey, R.L., Williams, Y.M., Taylor, M., Falconi, L., Yates, C.J., Scott, J.K., Alagador, D., Williams, S.E. (2013), Making decisions to conserve species under climate change. Climatic Change. February 2013.


Severe impacts on biodiversity are predicted to arise from climate change. These impacts may not be adequately addressed by conventional approaches to conservation. As a result, additional management actions are now being considered. However, there is currently limited guidance to help decision makers choose which set of actions (and in what order) is most appropriate for species that are considered to be vulnerable. Here, we provide a decision framework for the full complement of actions aimed at conserving species under climate change from ongoing conservation in existing refugia through various forms of mobility enhancement to ex situ conservation outside the natural environment. We explicitly recognize that allocation of conservation resources toward particular actions may be governed by factors such as the likelihood of success, cost and likely co-benefits to non-target species in addition to perceived vulnerability of individual species. As such, we use expert judgment of probable tradeoffs in resource allocation to inform the sequential evaluation of proposed management interventions.

Wilson Lab Journal Club: War and Peace and Conservation Biology

Each month the Wilson Lab meets to discuss an important piece of literature, brainstorm grand ideas or discuss research directions and progress. This month, Lochran Traill led the discussion.

Ehrenfeld, D. 2000. War and Peace and Conservation Biology. Conservation Biology 14(1): 105-112.

By Lochran Traill

Written a decade ago, Ehrenfeld’s reference to “great events of the world” that are “inherently too complex to be managed by … science and reason” remains pertinent. Citing Tolstoy’s historical account of Napoleon’s defeat in Russia (in War and Peace), Ehrenfeld points out that scientists err by assumption that an increase in knowledge alone will stop (or even slow) the extinction crisis. As Field Marshal Kutúzov knew, no one leader could control great battles or great events, such things are unpredicted and undirected.

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