The Importance of Species: Perspectives on Expendability and Triage

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Princeton University Press, 2003 - Nature - 427 pages
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A great many species are threatened by the expanding human population. Though the public generally favors environmental protection, conservation does not come without sacrifice and cost. Many decision makers wonder if every species is worth the trouble. Of what consequence would the extinction of, say, spotted owls or snail darters be? Are some species expendable?


Given the reality of limited money for conservation efforts, there is a compelling need for scientists to help conservation practitioners set priorities and identify species most in need of urgent attention. Ecology should be capable of providing guidance that goes beyond the obvious impulse to protect economically valuable species (salmon) or aesthetically appealing ones (snow leopards). Although some recent books have considered the ecosystem services provided by biodiversity as an aggregate property, this is the first to focus on the value of particular species. It provides the scientific approaches and analyses available for asking what we can expect from losing (or gaining) species.


The contributors are outstanding ecologists, theoreticians, and evolutionary biologists who gathered for a symposium honoring Robert T. Paine, the community ecologist who experimentally demonstrated that a single predator species can act as a keystone species whose removal dramatically alters entire ecosystem communities. They build on Paine's work here by exploring whether we can identify species that play key roles in ecosystems before they are lost forever. These are some of our finest ecologists asking some of our hardest questions.


They are, in addition to the editors, S.E.B. Abella, G. C. Chang, D. Doak, A. L. Downing, W. T. Edmondson, A. S. Flecker, M. J. Ford, C.D.G. Harley, E. G. Leigh Jr., S. Lubetkin, S. M. Louda, M. Marvier, P. McElhany, B. A. Menge, W. F. Morris, S. Naeem, S. R. Palumbi, A. G. Power, T. A. Rand, R. B. Root, M. Ruckelshaus, J. Ruesink, D. E. Schindler, T. W. Schoener, D. Simberloff, D. A. Spiller, M. J. Wonham, and J. T. Wootton.


 

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Contents

Native Thistles Expendable or Integral to Ecosystem Resistance to Invasion?
5
The Overriding Importance of Environmental Context in Determining the Outcome of SpeciesDeletion Experiments
16
Species Importance and Context Spatial and Temporal Variation in Species Interactions
44
Effects of Removing a Vertebrate versus an Invertebrate Predator on a Food Web and What Is Their Relative Importance?
69
Understanding the Effects of Reduced Biodiversity A Comparison of Two Approaches
85
THE ANTHROPOGENIC PERSPECTIVE
105
Models of Ecosystem Reliability and Their Implications for the Question of Expendability
109
Predicting the Effects of Species Loss on Community Stability
140
LINKAGES AND EXTERNALITIES
235
Social Conflict Biological Ignorance and Trying to Agree Which Species Are Expendable
239
Which Mutualists Are Most Essential? Buffering of Plant Reproduction against the Extinction of Pollinators
260
The Expendability of Species A Test Case Based on the Caterpillars on Goldenrods
281
An Evolutionary Perspective on the Importance of Species Why Ecologists Care about Evolution
292
Recovering Species of Conservation ConcernAre Populations Expendable?
305
Virus Specificity in Disease Systems Are Species Redundant?
330
Conclusion
347

One Fish Two Fish Old Fish New Fish Which Invasions Matter?
161
Ecological Gambling Expendable Extinctions Versus Acceptable Invasions
179
Rarity and Functional Importance in a Phytoplankton Community
206
Community and Ecosystem Impacts of SingleSpecies Extinctions
221

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About the author (2003)

Kareiva is the Chief Scientist and a Vice President for The Nature Conservancy, the world's largest environmental organization. He also maintains an appointment at Santa Clara University in California. Before moving to The Nature Conservancy, Dr. Kareiva was the Director of the Division of Conservation Biology at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center. He has served on the editorial boards of over a dozen different journals, has edited six books, and has been a faculty member at Brown University and the Universities of Washington and Virginia. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and done research, consulting, teaching, or conservation work in twenty countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has authored more than 100 papers and articles, many of which were written in collaboration with colleagues in fisheries, agriculture, economics, and forestry.

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