The complementarity of single-species and ecosystem-oriented research in conservation research

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenÜbersichtsarbeitenForschung


  • David B. Lindenmayer
  • Jörn Fischer
  • David Wilson
  • Caroline Blackmore
  • Arianne R. Lowe
  • Suzi Bond
  • Nicki Munro
  • Carole P. Elliott
  • Adam Felton
  • Rebecca M. Montague-Drake
  • Adrian D. Manning
  • Daniel S. Simberloff
  • Kara Youngentob
  • Denis A. Saunders
  • Anika Maria Felton
There has been much debate about the relative merits of single-species vs ecosystem-oriented research for conservation. This debate has become increasingly important in recent times as resource managers and policy makers in some jurisdictions focus on ecosystem-level problems. We highlight the potential strengths and limitations of both kinds of research, discuss their complementarity and highlight problems that may arise where competition occurs between the two kinds of research. While a combination of approaches is ideal, a scarcity of funding, time, and expertise means it is impossible to study and manage each species, ecological process, or ecological pattern separately. Making decisions about priorities for the kinds of research, priorities for the kinds of conservation management, and associated allocation of scarce funds is a non-trivial task. We argue for an approach whereby limited resources for conservation research are targeted at projects most likely to close important knowledge gaps, while also promoting ongoing synergies between single-species and ecosystem-oriented research.
The magnitude of biodiversity losses, coupled with a need to address large-scale problems with limited budgets, has meant that resource managers and policy makers in some jurisdictions are increasingly focused on ecosystem-oriented research and management in lieu of traditional forms of single-species work (Simberloff 1999, Greene 2005, Anonymous 2006). In this short communication, we argue that disregarding single-species research and management ignores the important complementarity that arises from maintaining a mix of approaches in research and management. We first highlight the potential strengths and limitations of different approaches and emphasize the need for a range of strategies to conserve biodiversity. We demonstrate the potential for complementarity between different research approaches with case studies, and urge that complementarity be considered as part of funding decisions. We note that funding for conservation research and management is limited, making prioritisation critical to ensuring that funding is expended in the most efficient way possible (Stem et al. 2005, Field et al. 2005). We discuss how the choice of research projects may be effectively guided by strategically identifying key knowledge gaps, while maintaining the potential for complementarity between different research approaches.
Seiten (von - bis)1220-1226
Anzahl der Seiten7
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 07.2007
Extern publiziertJa