Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow

Abstract

Most monitoring approaches for rare species proposed by academics lack practicality and meaning for conservation practitioners. For example, while a recommended monitoring protocol may detect statistically significant declines in the abundance of a target species over time, the biological importance of the decline or the point at which management actions should be initiated often remains unclear. To increase the power and relevance of monitoring, I propose to mathematically link monitoring and management processes with population models in a strategy I refer to as population viability management. This approach places adaptive conservation decision-making in a clear and defensible risk-management context. Specifically, this comprehensive modeling allows both upfront comparisons of alternative monitoring and management systems and ongoing assessments of population status using a biologically-based measure—that of extinction risk probabilities. While the promise of these ideas has recently emerged in the conservation literature, they have not been extensively explored with simulations or tested in the trenches.